- American Beech, Fagus grandifolia (Forest of Arden)
Smooth bark, long, pointed buds, parallel leaf veins, and prickly fruit casings characterize this tree. Hollins’ Forest of Arden has a huge, healthy specimen.
- Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum (Forest of Arden)
This tree may have been one of 60 different trees planted on campus in the spring of 1940. Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek notes the fall splendor or this species; “I passed under a sugar maple that stunned me by its elegant unself-consciousness: it was as if a man on fire were to continue calmly sipping tea.”
- Black Walnut, Juglans nigra (Forest of Arden)
The tough outer shells of black walnuts are well worth cracking in the fall; the edible nuts have a rich and unique flavor. In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard pauses behind one; “So from behind the trunk of a black walnut, which was my present blind, I stepped boldly into the open.”
- White Pine, Pinus strobus (Oyster Pond)
You can identify this native pine by its large, sappy cones and flexible needles in bundles of five.
- River Birch, Betula nigra (Beale Garden), left
A fast-growing native, this tree has peeling, reddish-brown bark that makes it stand out in winter.
- Black Locust, Rubinia pseudoacacia (beside Carvin Creek by upper field)
Look for this tree’s highly scented and showy pea-like flowers in spring and long seed pods that sometimes remain on the tree into winter.
- Japanese Zelkova, Zelkova serrata (by tennis courts/paint shop)
An adaptable landscape tree with a distinctive vase shape.*
- Swamp White Oak, Quercus bicolor (by Tinker).
This oak was planted in the fall of 2015 to replace a 160+ year old sycamore which once grew here. It’s characteristic leaves are dark and glossy on the surface, and white underneath. This oak can be identified by the peeling bark of its young branches. It’s acorns are edible once the tannins are leached from them, but the tree will be 20-30 years old before it produces its first acorns.
- Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora (in front of Tinker, beside the Cocke building)
Giant, lemon-scented blooms in summer grace this tree’s dark evergreen foliage. The trees by Tinker were a gift of the classes of 1965, ’66 and ’67.
- Green Ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica (Front and Back quads)
Threatened by the emerald ash borer, Hollins is now actively protecting its impressively huge ash trees.
- Willow Oak, Quercus phellos (by Tinker)
Grounds supervisor Russell E. Christensen planted these willow oaks in the spring of 1966, envisioning their stately form one day shading the then-new dorm. Like a willow, the willow oak sports slender leaves. In fall it bears tiny acorns.
- Chinese Chestnut, Castenea mollissima (behind Presser)
Brought to the United States in the early 1900s, the Chinese chestnut is naturally resistant to the fungal blight it brought to North America, which wiped out the American chestnut.*
- Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera (Front Quad)
Early summer finds these trees decorated with bright green and orange tulip-like flowers.
- Flowering Dogwood, Cornus spp. (Front Quad, Forest of Arden, by Wyndham Robertson Library)
Many cultivars have been bred from this small-statured native tree. Its spring blooms are showy white to pink bracts.
- American Elm, Ulmus americana (Front and Back Quads)
Many elm trees in North America have been lost to Dutch elm disease, making Hollins’ trees rare specimens. Annie Dillard quantifies the potential of an elm in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; “A big elm in a single season might make as many as six million leaves, wholly intricate, without budging an inch; I couldn’t make one.”
- Red Oak, Quercus rubra (Front Quad)
Red oaks have pointed leaf margins and slightly darker bark than white oaks. Hollins’ “oak arbor” at its main entrance was planted in the fall of 1995.
- Copper Beech, Fagus sylvatica (between the Wetherill Visual Arts Center and Turner and beside Cocke building)
Until a storm in 1999 damaged it beyond repair, Hollins boasted a 73’ tall copper beach that was dubbed Roanoke County’s Sesquicentennial Tree in 1988. Its replacement stands today beside the Cocke Building in honor of Susanna Pleasants Turner ‘35.
- White Oak, Quercus alba (Chapel lawn)
White oaks can be identified by their rounded leaf margins.
- Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani (in front of Theatre)
Popularized in the 1600s as a landscape tree on wealthy English estates, Hollins’ thriving cedar, though much younger, demonstrates how trends in landscape plantings change with time, and how the decisions of Hollins’ grounds crews past become their living legacy.*
- Ginkgo biloba, (by Theatre)
This ancient species, known as a “living fossil,” the Ginkgo tree is the only surviving member of its genus.*
- Dawn Redwood, Metasequoia glyptostroboides (library parking lot and beside greenhouse)
This Chinese tree was popularized as a landscape tree in the 1940s. It is an ancient deciduous conifer species.*
- Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea (by Wyndham Robertson Library)
This small native tree has edible berries in summer.
- Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis (creek by Wyndham Robertson Library)
The hemlock wooly adelgid is a sap-suckling insect currently threatening this native tree species. Hollins’ trees have maintained good health thus far. Suggestive of westerly winds, Annie Dillard animates the hemlock in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek; “The hemlocks by the barbed-wire fence are flinging themselves east as though their backs would break.”
- Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua (Beale Garden, Front and Back Quads)
With unique star-shaped leaves that turn both yellow and deep purple in fall, the sweet gum provides year-round interest as it drops its empty fruit casings, or spiny “gumballs,” in winter.
- Kentucky Coffee Tree, Gymnocladus dioicus (Beale Garden)
This large specimen, admired by generations of Hollins students, may not stand for much longer.
- Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia soulangiana (Beale Garden and beside Pleasants Hall), right
Gorgeous early spring blooms distract students in the north-facing classrooms of Pleasants Hall and attract pollinating insects before many other flowers have opened.*
- Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana (Cemetery hill)
This slow-growing conifer can live up to 800 years. Recent core samples of some of Hollins’ larger red cedars suggest that some are nearly a century old.
- Norway Spruce, Picea abies (behind Wyndham Robertson Library)
This tree was given in honor of Wyndham Robertson ’58 by her nephew as a continuation of a family Christmas tree decorating tradition.
- American Chestnut, Castenea dentata (behind Wetherill Visual Arts Center)
Planted in May of 2013, these trees are part of a cooperative effort with the American Chestnut Foundation to restore a once-great species that has come to the brink of extinction.
- Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica (behind Wetherill Visual Arts Center)
The willows along Carvin Creek are among the first to turn green on campus each spring.*
*indicates non-native species
Hollins University Tree Guide (PDF)
Written content by Anna Copplestone ’06; design by Sharon Meador.