As of 2017, the Arboretum boasts over 120 tree species and more than 1,500 individual trees. This page includes a self-guided tour through campus, focusing on six main areas, which will showcase the Arboretum’s cultural and ecological significance. All of the trees along the tour are labeled with tags, on the trunk or on a nearby stake, bearing their common and scientific names. Additional trees around the campus are labeled as well. You can also download our full Arboretum Guide. A complete arboretum map is also available in an interactive format through Google Maps.
As you begin from Burrow Hall, you’ll see two varieties of magnolia, an aromatic Sweetbay on your right and a prized Southern Magnolia on your left. The Rollow Avenue of Oaks was planted by John Rollow in 1924 using seedlings collected from the College’s previous campus in Clarksville, Tennessee. Along Phillip’s Lane, you’ll see several trees planted including a Shumard Oak, an American Elm, and a White Fringetree.
A common lowland tree of the Gulf States, the Southern Magnolia, widely planted as an ornamental tree throughout the world for its large, showy owers, and lustrous evergreen foliage. The upper leaf surface is bright green and glossy, while the underside of the leaf is densely covered with reddish-brown hairs.
The magnolia family is thought to have been some of the rst owering plants with fossils dating back almost 100 million years! This tree is also referred to as beaver magnolia, as beavers find its roots to be particularly scrumptious. Its leaves also have a quite pleasant aroma.
This medium to large southern oak with willow-like foliage is known for its rapid growth and long life. It is an important source of lumber and pulp, as well as an important species to wildlife because of heavy annual acorn production. It is also a favored shade tree, easily transplanted and used widely in urban areas.
Fisher Garden is not only a beautiful corner of campus, but is also the site of several important ceremonies, including commencement. Fisher Garden features several fascinating native tree species, such as the Sweetgum and the Shagbark Hickory. As you approach Phillips Lane, you’ll pass a Southern Red Oak on your right.
Although not related, the Hemlock tree got its name from the poisonous hemlock plant because of the similar scent it gives off when the needles are crushed. This evergreen tree often droops at the tip, giving it a shape distinct from the typical pointed top like that of most trees in the pine family.
The Southern Red Oak is sometimes referred to as "Spanish Red Oak" because these trees are commonly found in areas of Spanish colonization. The leaves found on the outer areas of the crown are finger-shaped with slender, pointed or toothed tipped lobes, with a curved terminal lobe.
The hardened sap, or gum resin, of the Sweetgum can be chewed on like chewing gum! Sweetgum is second only to the oaks in production of hardwood lumber. In the northern portion of its range, Sweetgum is one of the best of all trees in terms of fall color, with its leaves turning yellow, orange, red, and purple.
You may recognize the residence halls adjacent to Thomas Lane as the setting for the Judd Nelson film, Making the Grade. Some of the notable tree species in this area include a Black Walnut, a Post Oak, a White Oak, and an American Beech. On the other side of Thomas Lane, in front of the President’s Office, observe a female Gingko tree, but don’t get too close! Female Gingko trees are known for their pungent fruit.
This species is so common it gives rise to the name for an entire ecoregion found in Texas: the Post Oak Savannah. The distinctively cross-shaped leaves make this oak easy to identify. The leaves are dark green and rough on the upper surface, and covered with soft hairs beneath.
White Oak is prized for its high-grade wood, which was used for shipbuilding in colonial times. The White Oak grows slowly and can live for several hundred years. This majestic species can be found in its native range from Maine to Minnesota, south to eastern Texas and southern Georgia.
As you enter Palmer Quad, you’ll be greeted by Flowering Dogwood, especially beautiful in the spring. The Frazier Jelke Amphitheatere is lined with Tulip Poplars, so named for their beautiful tulip-like flowers that bloom April through June. Along either side of the amphitheatere, there are several Crape Myrtles, which exhibit a colorful f loral display during the summer months.
Red Maple is known in the lumber industry as soft maple. The wood is close grained and resembles Sugar Maple, but is softer in texture, lacks figure, and has somewhat poorer machining qualities. Brilliant fall coloring is one of the outstanding features of Red Maple. In the northern forest, its bright red foliage is a striking contrast against the dark green conifers and the white bark and yellow foliage of the Paper Birches. Red Maple is widely used as a landscape tree.
Flowering Dogwood is one of America’s most popular ornamental trees. The species name florida is Latin for flowering, but the showy petal-like bracts are not in fact flowers. The bright red fruit of this fast-growing short-lived tree are poisonous to humans but provide a great variety of wildlife with food. The wood is smooth, hard and closetextured and now used for specialty products.
The Kentucky Coffee tree prefers a rich moist soil, such as that found in bottom lands. Its growth is largely unaffected by heat, cold, drought, insects, disease, road salt, ice, and alkaline soil. The common name refers to either the resemblance of its seeds to coffee beans or the use of roasted seeds by pioneers in making a substitute for coffee; however, unroasted pods and seeds are toxic. It is the only species of its genus in North America; there is one other Gymnocladus spp. in China.
The Rosanna Cappellato Memorial just outside of the Catherine Burrow Refectory recognizes the tireless efforts of Professor Rosanna Cappellato, who was instrumental in obtaining Rhodes’ Class IV Arboretum certification in 2011. The beautiful Scarlet Oak you see before you was planted in her honor after her passing in 2012.
The Water Oak is a vigorous member of the Red Oak group. It is used extensively in the landscape, where it grows quickly and reaches 30 meters in height and 1.5 meters in diameter. These trees are semi-deciduous in warmer climates, keeping their leaves well into the winter season.
The Cherrybark Oak is an excellent timber tree thanks to its strong wood and straight, sturdy trunk. The Cherrybark is also a great shade tree and provides food for a diversity of wildlife. The Cherrybark leaf ’s regularly tiered shape resembles pagodas, hence the species name.
Several Overcup Oak trees, one of the fastest growing oak varieties, are planted just outside of the Briggs Student Center. The Dawn Redwood near the entrance of Barret Library, was once thought to be an extinct species. And take note of the trees along the Frazier Jelke deck, which were planted after its renovation in 2015.
Due in part to its shallow, fibrous root system, which allows it to be transplanted easily, and its fast growth rate, this tree is one of the most common oaks found throughout the Eastern United States. Twig galls formed on the branches of these trees can be used to make black ink. (A gall is a bloblike growth caused by insects or fungi.)
The Dawn Redwood was recently known only from ancient fossils, until a small population was discovered in the forests of Central China in 1944. In 1946, the Arboretum at Harvard sponsored a massive expedition, in which they collected and distributed Dawn Redwood seeds to arboreta throughout the world. Rhodes received and planted such seeds in 1954.
Upon completion of this tour, you have identified only a small fraction of the trees housed here in the Rhodes College Arboretum. There are over 90 more available for you to identify, and we invite you to continue your exploration of the campus and identification of labeled arboretum trees. Additionally, in conjunction with our partners at the Overton Park Conservancy, we also invite you to venture into one of the final remaining old-growth forests in the state of Tennessee, located just across North Parkway.