Ceremony, removal of iconic Barton Springs leaning pecan tree delayed: PARD

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department says it values input from the public, and is pausing removal of "Flo", the iconic Barton Springs leaning pecan tree, to consider communication from the community.

"The tree has always been here and the pool without the tree would be a little different," says Eric Paul, visitor of Barton Springs Pool.

Barriers remain around the iconic pecan tree Flo, at the Barton Springs pool after the Austin Parks and Recreation Department decided to pause operations on the tree ceremony and removal, set for the middle of September.

"I would prefer that if it was possible that they could save the tree somehow , which is apparently what they are trying to do," says Eric Paul.

In August, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department received results confirming the trees diagnosis of a Brittle Cinder Fungus.

According to the department, four certified arborists inspected the pecan tree, confirming the diagnosis.

"It is considered to be what we call a sap rot organism. It colonizes through the outer wood underneath the bark and that is kind of tough going in there. It takes years and years for this fungus to start effecting the health of the tree, so if the tree is being diagnosed with it probably was infected many decades ago," says Dr. David Appel, Texas A&M University Professor Biological Control.

Many in the area say they are using the extra time after the city's announcement to make more memories while they can.

"I have been coming here since my daughter was a little girl and the tree is a part of the experience, it is absolutely beautiful. Everybody who comes here has sat in the shade of that tree at one time or another," says Jannette Rose, visiting Barton Springs Pool.

According to the diagnosis given to the Parks and Recreation Department, once a tree is infected with the disease, tree removal is recommended to reduce safety risk.

The parks and recreation board is set to have a meeting on Sept. 25.

PARD originally had decided to remove Flo on Thursday, Sept. 14 during hours that the Barton Springs Pool is closed, as well as host a Celebration of Life ceremony on Wednesday, Sept. 13. However, Monday, PARD said they have decided to delay the ceremony and removal. 

The tree has grown beside Barton Springs Pool for generations: the earliest known photos of the tree are dated from 1925-1926.

PARD said Monday that it recognizes Flo's importance and has taken great measures to preserve the historic tree for many decades.

Residents are encouraged to share their stories, memories and photos of Flo by emailing treestories@austintexas.gov.