In Memoriam: Irvington’s Tree Mafia Matriarch


Members of the Irvington Tree Mafia attend Alderina’s funeral.

Over winter break, Opia Alderina Jr. III, one of the trees in the courtyard, died peacefully in her home. (Read: violently chopped down.) Though many Irvington students may not have known the tree very well, Alderina was a prominent, controversial figure. 

Alderina was planted in 1945 by Irvington students in the first Irvington Change project. Back then, Alderina was a young tree filled with naïveté. She believed she could truly change the world. She devoted time to non-profits, worked at Tule Ponds, and even served as Irvington’s first non-human acting principal while official principal received a surgery. 

However, after a brief drug addiction, Alderina found herself immersed in the dark alleyways of the criminal world. It started off innocuously—she used illegal fertilizers at the 1968 Treelympics. After the International Treelympic Committee found out, it banned her from future competition, and she fell from grace. She then began her role in several criminal operations, including the Irvington Tree Mafia.

The tree community grew to fear Alderina. As her organization took root and branched out across the Irvington area, the severity of her crimes escalated. She was arrested in 2011 for running a pyramid scheme and in 2018 for illegal fertilizer trafficking. Officials have suspected Alderina of other crimes as well, including the killing of Old Otto, the tree standing in front of Hirsch Elementary School.  In 2020, authorities arrested her for the murder of Sappleton Root, a 2-year-old sapling growing across the courtyard. In each case, Alderina was acquitted of all charges, though some pundits speculate that she bribed the jury. (Her main defense was “I’m a tree! I can’t move!” She fell silent when opposing witnesses mentioned the array of firearms stored in her trunk.)

However, as the 2022-2023 school year swung into session, Alderina’s fortunes abruptly changed. A new administration cracked down on crime, and Alderina found herself in court for the last time. Due to the administration’s meticulous efforts to screen jurors, her usual tricks of bribery failed, and she was sentenced to death. 

In the wake of Alderina’s death, members of the Irvington Tree Mafia found their unlikely allies in opponents of the death penalty and several plants’ rights organizations. They are now suing Irvington administration and campaigning to change the sentencing process.