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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Dr. Kovalski with tree surgeons sitting in the Marlboro Tree after pruning, April 30, 1999
Dr. Kovalski with tree surgeons after the professional pruning of the Marlboro Tree, April 30, 1999.

Marlboro Tree

Now 152 years old, this massive black willow tree, which came to be known as the Marlboro Tree only in 1998, measures 76 feet in height and 19' 8" in circumference. Its protector, Dr. Paul Kovalkski of Marlboro, notes that five adults must hold hands to fully encircle the tree. Its Latin name is salix nigra, referring to the blackish color of its bark. The Marlboro tree has several trunks, characteristic of black willows, and black willow's natural habitat is along stream banks, where the trees help to hold the banks against erosion from spring floods. The Marlboro Tree is located near one of the Big Brook tributaries, in an area of the township known as Marlboro Village.

The Marlboro Tree has been certified by the New Jersey Forest Service as a "State Champion" tree, signifying that it is the largest known tree of its species in the State of New Jersey, and the largest tree of any kind in Marlboro Township.

The land on which the tree stands holds historical significance from many periods in the region's past. This area around the black willow is one of the top three sites in the state for dinosaur fossils, and Ice Age mammal fossils have been found nearby. It is estimated the tree began to grow in 1848, the year the township was settled. It became the official tree of Marlboro as part of the town's 150th anniversary in 1998, and was prominently featured on a commemorative 24K gold plated sesquicentennial medallion. It was also included by the Marlboro Township Historic Commission in the town's sesquicentennial logo.

Dr. Kovalski, who discovered the tree and is responsible for its protection and preservation, was awarded in October 1999 the Green Community Achievement Award for his efforts in greatly contributing to the field of urban and community forestry.

Project documentation comprises a five-page narrative, eight color photographs, a dedication ceremony program, a Green Community Achievement Awards program, and a gold-plated Marlboro Township Sesquicentennial medallion.

Originally submitted by: Rush D. Holt, Representative (12th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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