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Arborists say Flo, Barton Springs' iconic tree, can't survive fungal disease and must be cut down

A pecan tree by a pool is surrounded by barricades and supported by scaffolding.
Michael Minasi
Flo, an iconic pecan tree at Barton Springs, was diagnosed with brittle cinder fungus in August.

Soon the Barton Springs poolside will be a little less shaded and a little more lonely.

Austin Parks and Recreation has decided to remove "Flo," a pecan tree that has arched over the springs since at least 1925. Back in August, the tree was diagnosed with brittle cinder fungus, or Kretzschmaria deusta, a serious disease that weakens the wood and could eventually cause the tree to collapse on itself. There is no cure. Since then, the northern area of the pool where Flo hangs has been blocked off from public access.

The Parks and Recreation Department called on four independent certified arborists to propose next steps. All four arborists recommended the department remove Flo, according to a press release from the City of Austin.

"Put plainly, this tree’s trunk is entirely hollow and it therefore has an extremely high risk of failing, most likely when it is in leaf, which is the time of year when visitor traffic is highest at the pool, making the probability of part of it hitting someone also extremely high," wrote arborist Guy LeBlanc in his report on the tree. "The injuries could quite likely be fatal."

The arborists predicted that Flo has a high probability of falling within one to five years.

The city plans to remove Flo on Thursday sometime when the pool is closed.

"Flo has been an integral part of Barton Springs Pool for over a century, bearing witness as generations have enjoyed this uniquely Austin oasis," a Parks and Recreation spokesperson said. "Austin Parks and Recreation recognizes the immense significance of this historic tree and has taken great measures to preserve it for many decades."

The department will host a celebration of life for Flo at Barton Springs on Wednesday at 7 p.m., where folks are welcome to say goodbye. You can also send your stories and photos of Flo to to have them featured on the tree's official webpage.

Chelsey Zhu is the digital producer at KUT. Got a tip? You can email her at
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