See you later ‘Stumpy’: Sending off DC’s beloved cherry tree

WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Hundreds of people stopped by the south side of the Tidal Basin on Thursday, all to snap photos and say goodbye to their favorite cherry tree, nicknamed Stumpy.

The National Park Service announced plans to remove Stumpy, along with several hundred other trees around the Tidal Basin, on Wednesday. The NPS says it needs to make repairs to large portions of the basin’s crumbling seawall.

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The NPS explained to DC News Now that it’s not so much a final goodbye for Stumpy, but more of a “see you later.” With the help of local scientists and horticulturalists, the tree’s legacy can live on for generations to come.

“The National Arboretum is going to take some of the Stumpy tree. They’re going to provide us some genetic matches of that tree that we can plant. All of the trees we remove will become mulch, and spread around trees on the National Mall. It protects their roots and eventually becomes soil that supports trees,” said Mike Litterst, spokesperson for NPS National Mall and Memorial Parks.

For some treespotters, the Stumpy’s story and resilience is inspiring. The famed tree has weathered storms, lost pieces of its trunk and its branches, but it still stands tall.

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“It’s such a huge reminder of how every ending is a new beginning,” said Stumpy fan Olena Gaprnenko, who learned of Stumpy’s fate on social media.

One Stumpy fan from Arlington, Patrick Purtell, told DC News Now he feels like the tree represents the city well.

“We’ve been through a lot and sometimes we’re the underdog, especially in sports, but we persevere and so does Stumpy,” Purtell said.

Gaprnenko said Stumpy is like a reminder of how short and sweet life is.

“If I knew it was going to be here for a hundred years, I probably would have walked right by another tree and wouldn’t have paid so much attention to it,” Gaprnenko said. “Now, knowing that that kind of precious moment won’t be here next year, that makes me appreciate it.”

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The last chance to see Stumpy in peak bloom isn’t far away. Park officials say it’s likely peak cherry blossom bloom will be earlier than initially forecasted.

With warmer temperatures through the weekend and a little rain in the forecast, it’s looking like peak bloom could be early next week, according to Litterst.

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