An apparently ordinary loblolly pine that had been either planted or allowed to grow unmolested since approximately 1980, the Prophecy Tree’s special gifts were only revealed following a 2019 summer pruning. The City of Davis and Pollocona County had disagreed about the ownership of the trees along Polk St., allowing the pines there to grow essentially unmanaged and unpruned. After the ice storms of early 2018, however, the jurisdiction issues had been sorted out, and the pruning in summer 2019 was initially unremarkable. A large branch was removed from the tree to improve access along a nearby sidewalk, and no one thought anything more about it.

However, in the record heat of Summer 2019, sap began to leak from the stump of the branch, and by September it was possible to make out a word: PLAGUE. This ominous word, dismissed by the City of Davis and the County of Pollocona as a hoax, quickly spread among the rumor mills in city Facebook groups. Many, especially in the First Baptist Church of Davis Women’s Auxiliary Facebook group, wondered if the dire pronouncement was a sign from a higher power.

In response, a local with a chainsaw cut off another of the largest branches on the tree. Thanks to the mild fall that year, the sap flowed from the fresh would just as easily as it had from the earlier pruning. The word MARCH was therefore revealed.

The City of Davis responded by erecting a fence to keep further branches from being cut, but the March 2020 arrival of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown convinced locals that the tree was a prophet of some sort, and the fence was soon scaled. This time, three more major branches were cut, all that could be reached without a ladder. They revealed, in sap, the words PROTEST, MASK, and BREATHE.

By the time the Black Lives Matter protests began in earnest later that summer, there was no doubt in the locals’ minds that the tree was a prophet and despite a new, taller, fence brought in by the Mississippi DNR, five more branches were cut with the aid of a ladder from July to September of 2020. They revealed the words DEFEAT, ELECTION, RIOT, and ICE. Even before these events had been seen through, still more branches were cut. However, it seemed that only the very largest boughs of the pine would furnish prophecies, and there were only three such remaining along with the crown.

Two of the remaining branches were cut thereafter, one in November and another in December. The first read DEATH, the second STRIFE. Alarmed, the City of Davis erected a further fence 25 feet away and put the area under police guard; discussions began about felling or relocating the tree to forestall what was still officially a prank. Events soon outpaced this plan, however.

In mid January 2021, another branch was cut. This failed to produce any sap despite a warming trend at the time, and as such in early February the crown was cut off the tree. This failed to produce any sap either; state forestry officials who observed the stump noted that the tree had already been essentially dead, likely since late 2020.

The stump was subsequently cut down, the mystery of its amber prophecies dying with it.

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