Reddit Found A Tree Named Plato, And We Killed The Fun

Listen Now
Photo: Plato (Wikimedia)
Plato, in a detail from Raphael's "The School of Athens."

On the post there's a photo of a tree along Mount Galbraith Trail near Golden. Nailed to it is a name plate. It says "Plato."

One Reddit user thought it might be a pet's grave. Another said no, "I think it's a state champion tree, or a notable tree. Some are marked this way."

Still another remembered once having a long conversation with a ranger who said unique trees indeed got names, from the scientists who study them.

So we wanted to know, is "Plato" some sort of champion tree? And we called Katie Matthews a spokeswoman at Jefferson County Open Space, which maintains the trail.

"JeffCo open space was not aware that this plaque was on the tree," she said. "It will actually have to be removed, because it's in violation of our regulation regarding the destruction of natural resources."

That apparently carries a $125 fine. But, couldn't the plaque be grandfathered in? I mean it looks like it's been there a while.

"Ummm," she said, "we actually wouldn't make an exception for that."

You see, once nails are hammered into a tree, it makes the tree more susceptible to disease.

"Bark is the tree's protection. And anytime you remove bark or cut into it, you're breaching its armor," she said. And while the name Plato may have had meaning to the person who put it there, it doesn't have meaning to other park visitors.

"People come to open space parks to enjoy nature in its purest state," Matthews said.

So, we may have killed fun today. But we helped a tree.

As an aside, the non-profit Colorado Tree Coalition does recognize notable trees, but they never nail a plaque to the trunk. The deadline for 2017 nominations is Dec. 1.