‘Three Sisters of Montrose’ Post Oak trees will remain standing

Surviving years of urban development and natural disasters, the Three Sisters of Montrose are now being honored in their own right as historic landmarks.

By Deevon Rahmig

HOUSTON — For more than 150 years, sprawling Post Oak trees known as the Three Sisters of Montrose have stood the test of time, rooted in history dating back to the 19th century while lining the entryway to the Magnolia Cemetery off Montrose Boulevard.

The cemetery was formed back in the 1800s by members of the German Methodist immigrants.

“It’s hosted the burials of basically the people who built the city of Houston the carpenters, stonemasons, contractors, and in addition, of course, a number of veterans of the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and everything in between,” Marion Lineberry, President of the Texas Historic Tree Coalition, said.

Surviving years of urban development and natural disasters, the trees are now being honored in their own right as historic landmarks.

“It’s unusual that trees of this species have been able to survive that kind of invasion of their root system,” Lineberry said.

The cemetery was dubbed a historic landmark in 2005 and since then construction and tree removal initiatives have threatened their removal leading to efforts to protect the Post Oaks that remain.

“There used to be thousands of them,” Lineberry said.

When asked why it was so important to protect the Post Oaks, Master Arborist Matt Latham replied with several reasons.

“Especially trees like this around Montrose are going to take up a lot of the car pollution and they’re going to capture that and use it for their benefit. Then you look at things like hurricane Harvey, these trees can pull up to 200 gallons of water out of the soil every single day to help avoid flooding,” Latham said.

Longtime Montrose citizen Nancy Higgs became devoted to preserving the trees and worked with Latham to advocate for this historic tree designation honor. Latham has recently provided arborist consultation to Save Montrose Live Oaks, a citizen’s coalition trying to save mature trees that are threatened by a Montrose Boulevard sidewalk and drainage project planned by the Montrose Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ 27).

“It’s very important to try and make sure that we do everything we can to save them,” Lineberry said.

According to the Texas Historic Tree Coalition, Post Oaks are a slow-growing, drought-resistant tree, rarely found in nurseries because they are difficult to transplant. Conservation of these gnarly and magnificent trees requires leaving them wherever they are growing. Post Oaks can live 300 years or more. The Three Sisters of Montrose are only about halfway through their expected lifespans.

A commemoration ceremony is planned for Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. in the vicinity of the Post Oaks. These will be the first Post Oaks in Houston and all of Southeast Texas to be registered as historic

landmarks.

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