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Red mulberry in Lafayette new state champ

Nine new entries joined the Louisiana Champion Tree listing in 2019, including a red mulberry a young couple discovered on the grounds of a historic home in Lafayette Parish.

Michael and Tatiania Barney bought a home in Ossun — a rural community between Carencro and Scott in northern Lafayette Parish — that was built in the 1890s.

“It’s (the tree) got to be over 50 years old,” Michael Barney said.

The Barneys purchased the home two years ago.

“Unfortunately it’s the only nice tree in the yard. If that tree hadn’t been there, I can’t say for sure, but it didn’t hurt” in making the decision to buy the home,” said Barney, a musician who plays bagpipes for Farouche, a group he describes as Cajun Celtic fusion.

Barney said he and Tatiania, a microbiologist in the petroleum industry, are plant people and enjoy nature. He said they will plan hikes to seek out different plants.

The interest in the tree was shared with Brock Barker, a family friend. Barker earned his degree in horticulture from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and works for a company there.

“I’m a tree guy,” Barker said. “When I saw the tree there I told him he should check out whether it could be a state champion.”

Turns out it is, unseating the previous Louisiana Champion red mulberry tree in Calcasieu Parish.

“I didn’t think it was going to be the largest,” Barney said. “I’m certainly going to be taking better care of it, what out for what it needs.”

The other trees joining the Louisiana Champion Tree listing this year are a button bush, chinkapin, eastern hophornbeam, netleaf hackberry, possum haw and white titi, all found in Vernon Parish, and a catapla and empress tree, both in Webster Parish.

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