Last Look

Paul Bunyan couldn't have cut it down

A Yale tree almost as old as Yale.

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This towering white oak (Latin name: Quercus alba) stands to the right of the main entrance of Yale’s Marsh Botanical Garden. It’s thought to be about 305 years old. That makes it not only the oldest living tree on Marsh’s eight acres, but possibly the oldest living tree on the Yale campus. It’s about the same height as the four-story building across the street from Marsh, and its crown is some 100 feet around. Kunso Kim, the garden’s associate director, says visitors are invariably awed by the tree.

The Marsh gardens and facilities long offered research and teaching opportunities for students and faculty, but no visitors have been allowed since the campus shut down in the pandemic. During the lockdown, Kim took care of the “crucial maintenance” on his own. “I’m now joined by two colleagues,” he adds, “so it’s a little better.” Like the rest of us, he’s waiting for the day when people come back.

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