Preserving Wedgwood’s Scarlet Oak Heritage Tree

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has an Urban Forestry division which maintains street trees.  In this June 2016 article from the SDOT blog, the tree crew explains the work which was done to preserve Wedgwood’s Scarlet Oak Heritage Tree located on NE 77th Street at the corner of 38th Ave NE.

 SDOT blog article: Preserving a “Best In City” Scarlet Oak

SDOT’s Urban Forestry tree crew has begun work to preserve an enormous scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) in the Wedgwood neighborhood in north Seattle. This huge tree is one of a handful of trees in the right of way designated as a Heritage Tree.  The Heritage Tree Program is a partnership between the City and PlantAmnesty to recognize outstanding trees based upon the following characteristics:

Specimen: A tree of exceptional size, form, or rarity.
Historic: A tree recognized by virtue of its age, its association with a historic structure or district, or with a noted person or historic event.
Landmark: Trees that are landmarks of a community.
Collection: Trees in a notable grove, avenue, or other planting.

Not only is this scarlet oak a Heritage Tree but this specific tree is also classified as “Best in City” and was featured in an online article in Wedgwood in Seattle History.

Scarlet oak showing side limb trim.July 10 2016

Heavy outward growing limbs of the scarlet oak have been trimmed to reduce strain on the central trunk. The bolted ends of bracing rods can be seen on either side.


In April 2016 SDOT was made aware that the trunk of this tree sustained a crack in it, likely during the windstorm in mid-March.  SDOT decided to take this extraordinary approach to help demonstrate that preserving large trees is the most important management strategy to meeting our tree canopy goals.

Urban Forestry Manager Darren Morgan says this tree provides tremendous benefits to the community every year and is an icon in the neighborhood.  During the work planning process, several neighbors approached the SDOT team to share their thanks for the tree preservation efforts.

SDOT Tree Crew Supervisor Joe Markovich with scarlet oak.June 2016

SDOT Tree Crew Supervisor Joe Markovich at the scarlet oak, June 2016.


SDOT Urban Forestry installed a cabling and bracing system including hard-to-source materials from Seattle City Light’s warehouse. Portions of the system are rated at 54,000 lbs. tensile strength in order to provide significant reduction in risk. SDOT is committed to performing an annual inspection of the cabling system and will make adjustments to the system and/or the tree as needed to ensure that the system continues to provide the intended benefit.  SDOT estimates that the system could add 10 years or more to the life of this otherwise healthy and vigorous tree.

The mission of SDOT’S Urban Forestry division is to administer, maintain, protect, and expand the City’s urban landscape in street right-of-ways for Seattle residents and businesses so that economic, environmental, safety and aesthetic benefits are maximized. For more information about Urban Forestry, check out their webpage here.

7702 38th Ave NE as viewed from 77th.25 July 2020

New house being built by the scarlet oak in July 2020.

About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer writer of neighborhood history in Seattle.
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7 Responses to Preserving Wedgwood’s Scarlet Oak Heritage Tree

  1. kymberlee says:

    I would love to know more about the “Wedgwood Rock”. Also, thank you for your offerings. I appreciate the history lessons. 🙂

  2. Glad you are enjoying! On the Categories tab on the right margin of this page, choose “Wedgwood Rock” to see all the articles I have written about the Rock.

  3. I followed the links over to the interactive map of heritage trees. How cool is that? They’re all over! Thanks.

  4. It’s great that there are more and more on-line resources now. One of my purposes on my blog is to highlight resources which anyone can use, so my last two posts have drawn attention to material posted by the state archives system (maps) and this article about the work of the City of Seattle Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry division.

  5. wildninja says:

    This is awesome. We have some amazing arborists in this area.

  6. hdemare says:

    What a wonderful tree. I did not realize that it was possible to stabilize a tree in this manner.

  7. I didn’t know about this cable system, either, and I am glad they are making the effort. Not only is the tree a neighborhood icon, if it breaks off or falls on something, that could be disastrous. The tree is in the right-of-way so its care is under SDOT’s Urban Forestry.

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