They grazed roofs, laid down on top of cars, spilled onto streets and coaxed down power lines.
Tropical Storm Irma made victims of dozens of trees across Columbia.
But one might have been a bit more special than the others.
A half-century-old eucalyptus tree was left with its trunk twisted and beautifully splintered by Irma’s winds that blew through Monday afternoon.
Rosemary Biscardi gathered fragrant sprigs this week from the eucalyptus tree’s remnants on Trenholm Road near its intersection with Buchanan Drive. It’s best known by neighbors. But it’s also, no doubt, known to the thousands of drivers who pass by the location near Beltline Boulevard each day.
“It’s been here as long as I can remember,” said Biscardi, who planned to dry the leaves and perhaps put them in potpourri. The tree is on her walking route, and she often has stopped and picked up the dusty green-gray sprigs she found lying on the sidewalk.
Nearly 50 Columbia trees fell to Irma. And in a city of trees – where people notice and celebrate greenery – a loss like this one means a little something.
Eucalyptus trees are a bit of a local rarity in Columbia; there aren’t many more to be seen around town. In fact, they’re not native to the United States at all.
This eucalyptus was planted some 50 years ago by Wylly Stirling’s mother, Jane Robb, Stirling remembers.
“It was just a little stick, and my daddy said, ‘Oh, that’s never going to grow,’” said Stirling, who grew up in the house behind the tree.
Efforts by The State newspaper to reach the current owner of the house this week were unsuccessful.
People noticed the tree, neighbors said.
“It was the only eucalyptus tree around for forever,” said Barbara Boyd. She and her husband, Austin, have lived around the corner from the tree for nearly 20 years.
When it twisted and snapped on Monday, the tree fell across three of Trenholm’s five lanes, Boyd said.
When the tree was planted, Trenholm was just a two-lane road, Stirling remembers.
The tree “just grew and grew, and the road got wider and wider,” she said.
Post-Irma, what’s left of the tree’s trunk now stands in a sculpture-like, twisted spray of bark.
“It’s a shame,” Boyd said.
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.