Ancient Tree Archive Story

This story is too good not to share. Here is the link to a very inspiring organization.  Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is a not for profit whose mission is to collect and archive ancient tree genetics from the wild.


I’m Leslie, one of the Founders, and I’m just back from planting the most important native tree species for cleaning the water and soil, the Black Willow or Salix nigra, on all of the Great Lakes from Lake Superior to the Atlantic Ocean.  It was lovely getting out from behind a desk and out into the fresh air, water and earth!

We at Archangel clone and propagate ancient trees in order to preserve the best and oldest of the species.  While preserving the trees’ genetic traits in the Archive is primarily what we do, the ultimate goal is to get the offspring planted in the ground to go back to work doing what the trees do best—oxygenating Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, providing medicines to the natural world, holding the soil and cleaning the water.  Since our trees are the proven survivors, we hope they have plenty of tree sex as well so their offspring strengthen the weakened forests of the world.

Last year we decided to grow 40,000 clones of the National Champion Black Willow to sell to help support our cause.  They were the species that could be grown quickly enough to be ready to plant by 2011. Now they’re dormant, have rooted the soil in their pots and are ready to be planted.  Oh no!  Where are the customers?  As it turns out we’re better at cloning and propagating than marketing and selling.  So, dear readers, we need your help to plant these trees before the ground freezes hard.  If our supporters will plant them, we will give them away!

I decided I had better be the first to plant some to make sure they would be growing on each of the Great Lakes by spring.  On Sunday September 17, I loaded the 4’ tall trees in trays of 4” pots into my truck and took off alone.  Driving along I realized I was out of my comfort zone…I’m a grey-haired lady with a shovel, some potting soil and a map of Michigan.  Where was I going?  Who would help me?  There’s a place sacred to me from my childhood that wasn’t far.  I started there.

Then off I drove guided by some inner compass, to the gas station.  Looking at my map, a guy asked if he could help.  Well, yes, have you heard of the Black Willow?  And it went like that everywhere.  A lady who had recently lost her husband will have her grandchildren water them for Grandpa, motel owners put them on their beach, a fellow and his niece visiting in Grand Marais each took one to plant over in the thumb on Lake Huron, the waitresses from the diner promised to plant and care for them.  500 miles rotated on the odometer in three days in the Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan watershed.  The trees were in the ground.

Next trip, off to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean with my coworker, Byrdie.  Check upcoming newsletters for the next installment!

Meanwhile, consider joining me in the simple and positive act of planting one of Archangel Ancient Tree Archives’ willows for the health of our planet.  Call the office today @ 231-929-4800 or email us:

Thank you!  Leslie

Fast Film: DEATH OF A TREE and the planned urban degeneration of quality of life.

The above tree is/was an Alleppo pine, 80 feet tall, and a fully drought-tolerant species appropriate to the area. Despite its 300 year lifespan, it is in the process of being cut down. In what seems a juggernaut of conspiracies to erode all possible quality of life issues in urban locales, the new owners of the property were ordered to cut down the tree or else their new purchase would never be insurable. After searching for any possible alternative they had no choice but to acquiesce in a city known for instant litigation if so much as a twig falls on a passerby, otherwise living in their own home purchase would be deemed unlawful by its noncompliance with insurance.
So much for expansive shade, verdant beauty and combating smog with Amazon rain forest-like oxygenation. The new homeowners at least posted the reason for this travesty, and also allowed a holistic consultant neighbor to organize a “celebration of its life prayer ceremony” mid-death of the tree attended by many.The top photo features a daylight full moon (between the telephone pole and the palms left of center) which is not supposed to exist any more than 80 foot trees in cities.

The above photo represents a bit of the immediate area circa 1912.

This now enormous basin of suburbs was once described as a perfect savannah a la the Serengeti, meaning enough water to support seasonal grasses and shrubs, (hence the initial dry-farming/limited livestock practices were ecologically sound) but rather few trees for a locale teeming with human and animal life (the vestigial latter I still encounter constantly when trail-riding the area’s perimeter: bobcats, coyotes, deer etc.) Therefore each large tree evolved into map markers of sorts. The destroyed Alleppo pine tree was how one identified this locale from the top of the nearby mountain range that separated this valley from the rest of the burgeoning city until more familiar building landmarks were built. And soon its death will be complete.

biophilia-  a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature

“We live in an age in which it is easy to email Buenos Aires, and browse the internet from the Grand Canyon. We could just dial in from whatever sylvan spot appeals to our biophilia.” — From an article by Edward L Glaeser in The Independent [UK], March 23, 2011