Tree experts using 'tree EKG' to examine Lakeland's 'Lover's Oak'

By Rick Elmhorst, Anchor/Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2018, 4:57 PM EST

The City of Lakeland is going high tech to decide whether to save or cut down the beloved tree known to residents as "The Lover's Oak."


On Monday, March 5, renowned tree expert Joe Samnik brought in a high tech crew to examine the tree, located at Success Avenue and Lake Morton Drive. They are using infrared imaging, sonar and a “tree EKG” to examine the tree.

The gear allows the team to see inside the tree to determine its strength and health. 

“With the naked eye, you can just look up and see dead branches,” said city spokesman Kevin Cook. “But with these other methods he’s using you can see the inside of the tree."

A large limb from the tree fell on a passing car last summer, injuring the driver. Two other arborists have recommended cutting the tree down because they see it as a safety hazard.

But many residents believe the tree should be saved because it survived Hurricane Irma later in the year.

Resident Steve Depianta was driving by the tree and saw the team checking it out.

“I’ve always loved this one, especially because it’s so big and so old and majestic, and when I saw all the commotion over here I got worried somebody was thinking about taking it down,” he said.

Christopher Mank represents the woman injured when the limb fell on her car. He was there to check out the study as well.

“We are very interested in what they find out. We are interested in the health of the tree the day Miss Barron was injured,” he said.

The city is spending about $3,300 on the study. Samnik should be out with his results in about a month.