Beaufort’s “Christmas Tree” removed from Freedom Park due to disease, will be replaced in fall

Beaufort city crews removed a diseased and dying cypress tree – the city’s unofficial “Christmas Tree” – from Freedom Park on Bay Street Monday and will replace it next fall with a different species.

“We removed the tree and our next steps will be to treat the soil and prep the area for replanting a new tree later in the year,” said Isiah Smalls, public works director for the City of Beaufort. “During the interim, we’ll make Freedom Park as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

“It was unfortunate the tree had to be removed, but based on its condition and eminent demise, we had no choice,” he said.

The Leyland Cypress tree suffered from Sciridium Canker, one of the worst diseases for Leyland cypress, according to Michael Provencher, a certified arborist with All Care Tree Surgery of Hilton Head.

The canker disease is a fungus that forms on the branches and twigs of the tree, causing foliage above the canker to die. Affected branches turn yellowish first and later turn brown or reddish brown.
Last winter, City crews applied green paint to the tree to make it look healthier during the winter holidays, knowing they’d be removing the tree this spring, Smalls said.