Roland E. Schoenike
No other Clemson University professor of forestry ever left his signature, so readable by all, on the lands of the Clemson Experimental Forest (CEF) as did Dr. Roland Schoenike. When people hike, bike or ride horseback on the trails of the CEF, the evidence of his work is abundant.
Perhaps on thousands of occasions, trail users have wondered about those big yellow poplar trees with the broad white bands and black numbers. Dr. Schoenike began the process of selecting and marking these trees throughout the CEF in 1974. Branches from high in the crowns were shot off using a high-powered rifle. They were then grafted to rootstock in the Clemson Forestry Department nursery. Following successful grafting, these specimens were out-planted to the Yellow Poplar Seed Orchard on Seed Orchard Road, the only such seed orchard in the southern United States.
Trail users traveling along Seed Orchard Road have likely noticed a Christmas tree plantation containing eastern red cedar, Leyland cypress, and Arizona cypress. Again, this is the product of the enthusiastic and innovative efforts of Dr. Schoenike. He was the pioneer in the introduction of Leyland Cypress Christmas tree plantations to the South where today it has become one of the most popular of Christmas tree species. In Upstate South Carolina, practically all Leyland cypress Christmas trees are genetic twins to the trees in this plantation as they can be traced to the vegetative cuttings from the trees on this site. (Also see Leyland Cypress.)
In addition to Leyland cypress, Dr. Schoenike studied a number of other species for their commercial Christmas tree possibilities. These included: Arizona cypress, Scotch pine, white pine, Virginia pine, red cedar, and Deodar cedar. One Arizona cypress clone, Clemson Greenspire, was released for commercial production as a named variety in 1981. Dr. Schoenike was made a life member of the South Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association for his work in this area.
Also along Seed Orchard Road the trail user passes through a loblolly pine seed orchard. It is here in 1968 that Dr. Schoenike pioneered the development of improved genetic stocks of loblolly pine. This was the first loblolly pine seed orchard established in South Carolina. The genetic origins of most of Upstate South Carolina's plantation loblolly pine can be traced to this site. (Also see Loblolly Pine.)
Dr. Schoenike was a forest scientist who truly loved to work in the woods. He was Professor of Forestry at Clemson from 1963 to 1988. During that time he was largely responsible for the development of the 60-acre arboretum which in 1988 was named the "Robert E. Schoenike Arboretum" for him and memorializes his work. Through his care and efforts, over 2000 specimens were planted and nurtured for the education and enjoyment of all who visit there. He examined many introduced tree species for use as ornamental, landscape, timber, and urban forestry purposes. Many successful Arboretum introductions were used for trial plantings across the CEF.
Dr. Schoenike was a native of Minnesota. His undergraduate and doctoral studies were done at the University of Minnesota. He joined the Clemson Department of Forestry faculty in 1963. He authored numerous papers in forest genetics and taught dendrology, forest genetics, and plant propagation. His untimely death due to cancer was a great loss to Clemson University, the Arboretum, and the CEF.
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