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A Shumard Oak in
A Shumard oak in Sorority Village on November 15, 2019. The scientific name of the tree is Quercus shumardii and it is 65 inches in diameter and 55 feet tall. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

UT’s campus boasts a variety of interesting trees, including a new monkey puzzle tree on the ag campus and a Shumard oak that marks the highest point in Sorority Village and is equipped with grounding cables to protect it against lightning strikes.

“Every tree is an asset,” said Jason Cottrell, assistant director of landscape services for Facilities Services. “Our campus is home to eight Tennessee champion trees, meaning they are the largest known trees of their species in the state. We have the largest ginkgo and the largest persimmon, but we also have lots of unique hybrids.”

In 2008, UT’s Facilities Services team began tallying campus trees for a database of information about tree populations. The inventory, Arbor Pro Community Viewer, includes each tree’s location, species, and size, as well as the tree’s condition, maintenance recommendations (for example, pruning, fertilization, or removal), risk assessment, and conflicts with landscape fixtures like buildings, light poles, or signs.

Facilities Services uses the cloud-based inventory primarily to plan and track the work they perform on campus trees, but it can also be used to pull carbon footprint offset data or prepare for a defense against an invasive insect or disease. The inventory is used by students for classes like botany and urban forestry, and these students assist Facilities Services staff with updating the inventory.

“I became the UT arborist in 2015 and began updating the inventory at that time,” said Sam Adams, arborist with landscape services. “As you can imagine, the UT campus has gone through a lot of changes since 2008, so there was a lot of updating to do. New trees had been planted, old buildings and the landscapes associated with them were removed and rebuilt, and many trees were lost due to storms, drought, and pests.”

“We are close to having the inventory completely updated, but with 8,800 trees there is always updating that needs to be done,” said Adams.


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