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Removal of sycamore tree - Solitude – April and May 2020

Sycamore tree next to Solitude

Posted April 23, 2020

In an abundance of caution for the safety of the campus community and in light of the declining health of the tree, the Facilities Department is conducting planning around the removal of the sycamore tree next to Solitude.

In spring 2020, five new trees will be planted between Solitude and the Duck Pond to replace this sycamore and other trees that have been previously removed in the area. The new black gum trees and swamp white oak trees will grow to witness future Virginia Tech events and community gatherings.


In January 2020, the university arborist began assessment to determine if the sycamore tree next to Solitude could be managed for preservation based on its health.

Upon first inspection, substantial deadwood was recognized throughout the crown of the tree. This dieback was noted as possibly the result of root damage associated with construction of the patio on the south side of Solitude. The severance of roots stresses trees and leaves them vulnerable to pests and disease.

Through ongoing communication with the university Arboretum Committee, the arborist learned that the tree had been suffering for many years.

The second inspection revealed evidence of canker-stain, a fungal disease that attacks the vascular system of trees, on limbs throughout its crown. Canker-stain is a lethal disease that cannot be treated, is contagious to other susceptible plants, and ultimately kills its host.

The university arborist concluded the assessment and decided, in conjunction with the Arboretum Committee and Solitude Working Group, that the tree must be removed as the advanced stage of disease leaves no room for preservation.

Planning for this removal is underway with a goal of completion by late spring. Due to the suspicion of canker-stain infection, the wood will not be utilized on campus. The replacement trees will be planted also later this spring.

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