Rick Street, grounds crew chief, trims away at the African fever tree on the University of Arizona campus. As a result of the February freeze, this and several other Heritage Trees will be cut down or face severe pruning.

Nine of the 22 designated Heritage Trees on the UA campus were so badly frozen in February that they will have to be cut down or severely pruned to "something that looks like a coat rack."

"It's a devastating loss," said Tanya Quist, director of the University of Arizona Campus Arboretum.

One of the nine trees - a fever tree native to Africa that stood near Cochise Hall - was cut down Monday.

The Heritage Trees are a collection of special trees prized for their origin, age, appearance or connection with the university's history.

Quist said the fever tree and four others showed no sign of life - or very little. All of those likely "will need to be cut back to a stump," she said.

Another four seriously cold-stricken trees will undergo "hard pruning," resulting in that "coat rack" look, Quist said.

She emphasized that plans for individual trees could change as continuing observations provide more information about their condition.

Wherever possible, Quist said, an effort will be made to retrain damaged trees to resemble their former shapes.

In the case of trees frozen so severely "that they wouldn't be an asset to the landscape for several decades," she sees another option.

"I'd like to take seedlings and produce a new plant that could eventually be introduced into the landscape," she said.

Quist said the sad fate of the Heritage Trees is "just the tip of the iceberg" in terms of overall damage to trees on the campus.

"There are many trees - ones that weren't Heritage Trees or on special lists - that were hit really hard by the freeze," she said.

Even as the frozen trees bring "a sense of loss," the situation also offers an opportunity, Quist said.

"It's an opportunity to consider a new identity for the tree collection," she said. That might include "a collections policy that promises greater sustainability, with trees that are more likely to endure the extremes of temperatures that we have here."

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192.