The Burger King Live Oak Amputation Mystery Deepens

A second Swamplot reader sends us a pic of another Burger King sporting what appear to be recently hacked-up live oak trees — this one at the corner of Scott St. and Cleburne. That’s far away from any freeway feeder roads, but across the street from UH’s Robertson Stadium. How recently were these trees guillotined? The reader isn’t sure, but the cuts look kinda fresh, and Google Street View is ready with images from last June showing how the sidewalk-side residents looked with their limbs still bushy and intact.

Spot any further Burger King beheadings around town? Snap a photo or 2 and send them in!

Photos: Swamplot inbox

20 Comment

  • ok, that is really weird. Burger King hates trees!

  • The fact that this has happened at two Burger King locations has to be related to the franchise owner hiring an incompetent landscaper.

    I’ve seen serious cutting back of an oak tree before by experts. It doesn’t look pretty when finished, but the tree still has some limbs and grows back more full and round (if you like that perfect symmetry look). This looks more like a simple mauling. If the trees survive (which is possible), you should see some sprouting by mid summer if not earlier. In about two to three years it will start to look like a tree again.

    Anybody out there with a real horticulture background?

  • Im not sure but those trees look to be on COH right of way in some spots and that is illegal to cut down trees. If so the business needs to be fully fined and be made an example of. I go by the airline location often and will make a point of bitching about this to the manager on up all the way to the King.

  • But it is not illegal to prune them if they are property adjacent ROW. The same reason that you are required to maintain the grass between the sidewalk and the road even though it’s not your property.

    And complaining at the restaurant is a waste of time. Complain to the franchise owner which is rarely located in the restaurant.

    One could question if you could damage a tree enough in this area in the ROW by the property that it dies. Technically you didn’t chop it down and your landscaper made a “mistake” which led to its death.

  • They got the wrong group of day laborers for the job. They saw the Crape Murder and thought they could do it to all trees.

  • Those trees belong to the citizens of the
    City of Houston, not the grease sales unit.
    City Forestry Dept. should be notified.

  • My best guess is that some mo-ron knows that you can’t cut down street trees unless they’re dead, so they do what they think is pruning in hopes of killing them, so they can take them out, and thus get rid of the grackles.

  • The Burger King at Richmond and Fountain View has also beheaded it’s trees. Sorry I can’t send a photo just yet–I went home a different way today.

  • If the beheaded trees are in the city’s ROW, you can report it to the city through the 311 website under “parks and trees – tree and tree planting.” If they aren’t, the perpetrators chose a really ugly & uninviting way to prevent grackle-roosting or lawn maintenance costs.

  • In the previous entry for the beheaded oaks at Yale/610, a poster named Superdave stated that live oaks are over-planted in Houston. So this all makes sense. Thanks, Superdave, for setting us unenlightened straight.

  • Are you serious, Burger King owner? This person needs to be publicly shamed.

  • If we continue to get rain these trees will survive. But they will never grow the same again and all the open ‘wounds’ leave it prone to termites, fungus, and other silent killers of trees.
    Oaks are tough trees and I have seen this done before to keep them from reaching power lines. This is the worst case I have ever seen!!

    If I run across some other examples I will send in some pics.
    An example I know of off the top of my head that is a success are the Maple trees outside the California Pizza Kitchen on the corner of Post Oak and San Felipe.
    These were cut 3-4 years ago and look decent today.
    With a background in Landscape Architecture I promise it is much easier to just plant a tree that stays smaller.

  • I’m in the landscaping/horticulture field and I doubt that this was done as pruning by a landscaper. Yes it could happen if it was just some guy off the street, but most commercial landscape maintenance in this town is done by quality professional companies who know better. In other words, there’s a reason these were topped. It is doubtful these trees will come back from that severe a pruning, esp. in the current drought. I hope someone can find out some more information on this.

  • “Oaks are tough trees and I have seen this done before to keep them from reaching power lines.”
    Jonathan, what power lines? They are under some power lines on Cleburne but on Scott, power lines are nowhere to be seen. Take a look at the Google street view yourself.

  • Maybe it’s a new employee discipline thing. Be late again and we’ll put a carrot over your nose, weigh you against a duck, tie you to the oak stump and burn you.

  • The Burger King on the 5100 block of Kirby caught fire this week. According to the Chronicle, firefighters said the blaze was “suspicious.” Maybe something else is going on with the city Burger Kings.


  • Totally un-tree assassination related: A couple of years back Burger King as a whole lost the crown of #2 burger fast food chain. Wendy’s slid into position.

  • Sihaya might have something there. Fortune *did* just rank Burger King Holdings as the #1 least admired company in the area of people management.

  • the trees are committing mass suicide?

  • Either they’re trying out a secret new recipe for oak leaf salad, or the owner of these three locations is seriously allergic to oak tree pollen, and just got really ticked off after one violent sneeze too many. Which I can kinda understand, some days.