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Herbie, Yarmouth's giant elm, determined to be 217 years old

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Herbie, Yarmouth's giant elm, determined to be 217 years old

YARMOUTH — The Maine Forest Service says Herbie, the town's massive Elm tree, was 217 years old when it was cut down Jan. 19.

Herbie's rings were counted by Peter Lammert of the Maine Forest Service. Lammert estimated upon first review that the tree was 212. On Jan. 29, the forest service removed another slice from Herbie's trunk to more accurately determine his age.

Jan Santerre of the forest service said Thursday, Feb. 4, that the five-year difference between the original estimate and Herbie's actual age came down to looking closely at the innermost rings. She said a crack down the middle of the trunk and a little bit of rot made the count difficult.

"After the wood dried a bit and we looked at it under the microscope, we were pretty settled on the correct age," she said.

Santerre, Lammert and Tom Hoerth, Bath's city arborist, made the final age determination.

"Those five additional rings could be seen with a dissecting microscope," Santerre said. "We feel confident this count is accurate. We wanted to make sure the count and the process was as accurate as possible."

Santerre said the rings also show Herbie was moved after about 15 years of growing in the wild.

Herbie, once New England's largest Elm tree, stood on the corner of East Main Street and Yankee Drive. Yarmouth's former tree warden, Frank Knight, now 101, saved the 110-foot tree from Dutch elm disease about 14 times over the last 50 years.

Knight had estimated Herbie to be about 240 years old.

The wood from Herbie will be used to create bowls, bookmarks and other memorabilia. Money collected from the crafts will be supplement the Yarmouth Tree Trust.

Santerre said the  trunk is at a mill, being prepared for woodworking. For more information on the products made from Herbie, visit Project Herbie.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net