Not even a shadow remains of the Ahuehuete of the Paseo de Reforma. What used to be green foliage is now a 40-foot trunk and a handful of bare branches. Although the metropolitan authority assures that this decrepit appearance is normal and it is only a matter of time before it regains its foliage, specialist Saúl Alcántara reiterates that any attempt to save the specimen is already a lost cause. “The Ahuehuete of the Paseo de Reforma is dead, she will never live again,” he says about the tree that populated the old roundabout of La Palma again on June 5th, World Environment Day.
The brown color of its leaves and reduced thickness were the first warning signs for the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) garden maintenance expert. Based on his experience, Alcántara points out that the tree must have responded positively 20 days after its arrival in the capital, but not only has it not, it has not happened five months after its arrival. “The planting wasn’t really successful because they must have definitely hit the root ball and air got into the roots because that same week it started turning yellow,” he explains, referring to reviews he received after arriving in Mexico over the tree has made city. .
Aside from the climatic problems and incidents such as the early roadkill he suffered weeks after his arrival, Alcántara warns that there were initial errors in the transplantation of this tree. “Before a tree of this size is transplanted, it needs to be pruned, removing up to 40% of its leaves to keep the trunk from losing moisture,” he explains. He has successfully transplanted five ahuehuetes in Mexico City: four in the gardens of the National Palace and another in the gastronomic school of the University of the Convent of Sor Juana.
In view of this death sentence, the capital authorities defend that the tree can still grow back. Adrián Cavazos, manager of Viveros Regionales – the company that donated the Ahuehuete – confirms that the tree is still alive and expects it to regain its green foliage by the end of February or March 2023. “The root lives and the tree lives, but it is dormant and we would have to wait until those days [febrero o marzo] to see how much regrowth it has,” he claims. The representative of Viveros Regionales estimates that there is an 85% chance that the Ahuehuete will recover.
Five months after arriving at the capital’s famous roundabout, the Ahuehuete has suffered stress, fungus and even a premature rollover. Cavazos dismisses any mistakes made in the transplant, pointing out that one of the key factors in the tree’s delay in adapting was the accident it suffered a few days after its arrival, when a car hit the tree directly and removed its root the original point. “We feel very responsible, we are most interested in that it is there, but if we saw from the first moment that it has no life left, we would have made the request to change it, why do we have it not done “Because we give the opportunity for the tree to sprout,” he assures.
Despite the headwinds, Mexico City’s environmental authorities continue to work on forced marches to encourage the tree to regrow. The erection of a metal fence, fertilizer, additional fertilizer, fungicides and thousands of liters of water per week are among the relief measures that have been implemented for months.
But for Alcántara all these measures are already in vain. The only way the expert has in mind is substitution with another tree. “The Ahuehuete was a beautiful tree, but it was very poorly worked. The tree won’t recover, it’s impossible,” he complains. In Mesoamerican mythology, the Ahuehuete is a symbol of strength, the tree that Tlaloc, god of rain, chose to build his paradise. Paradoxically, today the specimen of this thousand-year-old tree languishes in full view on the Paseo de Reforma.
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