Michael Calise has forgotten more about Westport than most of us remember.
But he hasn’t forgotten about the sycamore tree on the Post Road/South Compo corner.
Calise — a Westport native, and 1958 Staples High School graduate — has watched it for many years. It may not have been there when the British marched past on their way to Danbury in 1777, but it sure predates construction of the 1950s-era Compo Acres Shopping Center. It is estimated to be at least 150 years old.
Constant traffic — and drivers idling at that busy light — have taken a toll. Seven years ago, “06880” reported on alarming tree-killing mulch, and bark damage. Shopping center owner Equity One said that they knew the sycamore was a “defining aspect” of the property, and promised to take care of it.
The other day, Calise sent Peter Hannan some photos.
The arborist responded:
“For years the tree has suffered from anthracnose, a fungus that distorts the new leaves and often causes premature leaf fall. This is a direct result of wet and cool spring weather that allows the disease to thrive.
“As summer progresses and when these weather conditions change the tree will hopefully put on full foliage as it has in the past.
“The other item that was quite clear from the photos is the dead tops in the crown directly above the recent construction. In narrowing the environment of the root zone, some damage was certainly done.
“Trees for descriptive image are a mirror images below the ground as they appear above the ground. So the dead tops point to where the damage occurred, much like girdling roots. If this tree were on a private estate it certainly would have not encountered all the environmental issues, and would have been sprayed/fertilized or injected for the anthracnose.
“Just as an aside, a Connecticut group registers and documents notable trees. The criteria is oldest, tallest, widest, largest diameter. etc. Several are in Westport. If nothing else, with all the challenges this tree has experienced over the years — and there have been many — its resiliency is certainly champion.”