The famed Salem oak tree, which stood for more than 500 years on West Broadway in the city of Salem, crashed to the ground in June. Until then, it had been the last surviving stalwart from the original forest that covered the land when Quaker John Fenwick, founder of Salem, first arrived in 1675. Legend has it that Fenwick signed a peace treaty with Lenni Lenape Native Americans under the tree.
Just months before the tree fell, the Department of Environmental Protection collected acorns at the base of the Salem Oak. From those acorns, nearly 1,200 seedlings sprouted, were transferred into tubes and now are being nurtured at the New Jersey Forest Service Nursery in Jackson Township. Each of the state’s 565 municipalities will receive a seedling for planting in the spring; the public will also be able to purchase the seedlings.
The Salem Oak was ranked among the state’s largest white oaks. At more than 100 feet tall with a trunk circumference of approximately 22 feet, its crown spanned 104 feet. White oaks typically live 200 to 300 years.