Michigan non-profit says it has cloned John Muir's giant sequoia

Nov 5, 2013

John Muir
John Muir
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan-based Archangel Ancient Tree Archive announced this week that it has successfully cloned a giant sequoia tree planted by renown conservationist John Muir.

About 130 years ago, Muir transplanted the tree from Yosemite to his home in Martinez, California.  Now 75 feet tall, the tree suffers from two fatal fungal diseases.

Archangel's co-founder David Milarch said a forester from the John Muir National Historic Site sent cuttings from the sick tree to Archangel.

Milarch described his conversation with the forester. "He said we're in trouble. John Muir's tree is dying. We would like to have John's last living witness to his life and times stay alive."

Milarch continued, "We said sure. We will clone your beloved tree so that not only the country, but the world, has the tree that John revered so greatly at his home."

Archangel has a propagation facility in Copemish, Michigan.

Milarch says the cuttings were treated with a "hormone cocktail," and says the recent appearance of roots indicates the success of the cloning. 

He says the National Park Service will plant the tree's clones in national parks with suitable climates. He hopes one will be planted in Michigan - specifically in the Arboretum at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Muir is sometimes referred to as the father of the National Parks. A famed advocate for wilderness preservation, he played key roles in the establishment of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

Archangel's mission is to propagate the world's old growth trees before they are gone, to create a genetic library of ancient trees, and to clone them for purposes of research and reforestration.

In April 2012, Michigan Radio previously reported on the work of Milarch and Archangel.

- Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom