City of Austin considers future of popular pecan tree ‘Flo’


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The future of a popular leaning pecan tree in Barton Springs, known as Flo, is unknown as the City of Austin said it is listening to input from its residents on what to do next.

The city’s parks and recreation department announced it was delaying the scheduled celebration of life and removal of Flo last week. A spokesperson for the city said, “Austin Parks and Recreation values input from the public regarding concerns about removal and the Department is pausing to consider communications from the community.”

The tree suffers from a fungus known as Kretzschmaria deusta, which is commonly called the brittle cinder fungus. The fungus degrades the wood of the tree and causes it to collapse under its own weight. Lab results confirmed the presence of brittle cinder fungus in August.

Flo is doomed

Dr. David Appel, a professor in the plant pathology and microbiology department at Texas A&M University, said unfortunately Flo is doomed. There is no treatment to save the tree.

“It is going to fall down or someone is going to have to take it down,” Dr. Appel explained.

Dr. Appel said the fungus has been in the tree for decades, slowly degrading its structure. It is likely that other fungi are adding to the degradation as well, Dr. Appel said.

Since it is located in such a heavily trafficked and popular spot, Dr. Appel recommends the tree be removed.

“In order to judge a hazardous tree we also have to consider is there a target that would be injured or hurt, or damaged, from a tree like this, and it just unfortunately that Flo happens to be in a very public place right here with people that are very unsuspecting,” Dr. Appel said.

The city of Austin has placed supports under Flo and positioned signage around the tree that warns people to avoid the area.

KXAN reached out to the city over the weekend to get an update on the future plans for Flo, but has not heard back.


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