MTSU Arboretum

MTSU Arboretum

MTSU Sample of Native Tennessee Trees and Campus Map

Certified ArboretumMiddle Tennessee State University celebrated its centennial in 2011 and has more than 500 acres comprising the beautiful main campus. A diverse range of over 100 species of trees both native and non-native, as well as newly-planted and mature, dot the beautiful campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. These trees are not only viewed by the public; and make a lasting impression of our University on prospective students and visitors, but they are also used as part of MTSU’s educational curriculum as living “labs” utilized by MTSU Biology and Plant Science classes.


Records exist of the landscaping that has occurred on campus dating from the 1960’s to the present. Prior to the 1960’s not much is known about the landscaping on campus. As a result, we don’t know when some of the older trees on campus were planted. For example, the planting of the ‘Mount Vernon Walnut Trees’ in MTSU’s Walnut Grove is the only planting that occurred prior to 1960 that is recorded. The seeds were brought from Mount Vernon by Harry Belcher and planted at MTSU.

Pin OakOf interest to visitors may be some of the older trees on campus. Examples include the Southern Magnolias by the Tom Jackson Building and the Shingle Oak and the Common Persimmon in the JUB and Rutledge Hall area. Examples of rare trees include the American Elm at Abernathy/Alumni Drive, the September Elm near the Kennon Hall of Fame area, and the Underwood Hican (a cross between a hickory and pecan) and the Shinerling Shagbark Hickory by McFarland.


The late Dr. Earl New, Professor of Agriculture (from 1967 to 1977), had a vison about MTSU becoming an arboretum and was responsible for planning the diversity of representative tree and shrub species on campus. He designed the original landscaping plans for more than 15 campus buildings with this objective in mind. As the campus continues to expand and natural losses occur, campus planning has attempted to maintain the species diversity. The MTSU Grounds department maintains the campus landscape, which changes seasonally and makes the campus an inviting place to visit.

Take a walking tour of the campus using the pamphlet titled An MTSU Sampler of Native Tennessee Trees and enjoy views of native Tennessee trees (plus one unique introduced species, a male and female Ginkgo). The pamphlet unfolds to the campus map annotated with locations of trees while another part of the pamphlet provides tree details that include common and scientific name, GPS coordinates, and historical remarks. Copies of the pamphlet can be obtained at MT One Stop or the Student Union Help Desk. This pamphlet was developed to guide visitors to campus trees that reflect Middle Tennessee natural heritage. These native Tennessee trees have been identified and designated in an effort to have MTSU designated a Tennessee Level 1 Arboretum. In 2015, the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council recognized MTSU as such. Much of this work was completed by Larry Sizemore and Dr. Kim Sadler.

 Jason W. Young, MTSU Grounds, Greenhouse, & Motor Pool Manager
(Special thanks to Larry Sizemore, Greenhouse Supervisor and Landscape Specialist, retired in 2015 with 40 years of service at MTSU)

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

Scientific Name: Fagus grandifolia
Location: Smith Hall / Wiser-Patton Science Building
N 35° 50’ 79” W 86° 22’ 04”
Triangular nuts are food for wildlife.

American BeechAmerican Beech Tag

American Elm (Ulmus Americana)

Scientific Name: Ulmus americana
Location: Abernathy Hall
N 35° 50’ 67” W 86° 21’ 67”
Mucilaginous sap; twigs chewed on quench thirst.

 American ElmAmerican Elm leafAmerican Elm winterAmerican Elm Tag

American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Scientific Name: Ilex opaca
Location: Todd Building
N 00° 00 ’ 00” ??? W 00° 00’ 00” ???
Splendid large holly tree specimen.

Holly TagHolly TreeAmerican Holly Leaf

American Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Scientific Name: Liquidambar styraciflua
Location: Health, Wellness, and Recreation Center
N 35° 50’ 75” W 86° 21’ 52”
Fruit is woody, spiney tipped “gum ball”.

Sweetgum TagSweetgumSweetgum FruitSweetgum Winter

Basswood (Tilia Americana)

Scientific Name: Tilia americana
Location: Rutledge Hall
N 35° 50’ 95” W 86° 22’ 19”
Wood decays easily in older trees; provides cavity habitat.

Basswood TagBBasswood WinterB

Black Cherry (Prunus serotine)

Scientific Name: Prunus serotina
Location: Voorhies Industrial Studies Building
N 35° 51’ 00” W 86° 22’ 24”
Wood is most valued for cabinets; fruits plentiful for wildlife.

 

Black Cherry Black Cherry WinterBlack CherryBlack Cherry 2

Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Scientific Name: Nyssa sylvatica
Location: McFarland Building
N 35° 50’ 94” W 86° 21’ 75”
Attractive autumn foliage; excellent ornamental.

BBlack Gum TagBlack Gum WinterBlack Gum Bark

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Scientific Name: Juglans nigra
Location: Walnut Grove
N 35° 50’ 51” W 86° 22’ 09”
Seeds obtained from Mt. Vernon by MTSU groundskeeper.

aBlack Walnut WinterBlack Walnut LeafA

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)

Scientific Name: Quercus macrocarpa
Location: Learning Resource Center (LRC)
N 35° 50’ 51” W 86° 21’ 56”
Produces jumbo-sized acorns.

Bur Oak TagBur Oak LeafBur OakBur Oak Winter

Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Scientific Name: Diospyros virginiana
Location: James Union Building (JUB)
N 35° 50’ 54” W 86° 22’ 03”
Produces astringent orange fruit; food for wildlife.

Persimmon BarkPersimmon TagPersimmon WinterPersimmon

Common Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Scientific Name: Sassafras albidum
Location: Wood-Stegall Center
N 35° 50’ 50” W 86° 22’ 10”
Mature tree with only single-shaped leaves instead of three..

Sassafrass BarkSassafrass TagSassafrass WinterSassafrass

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Scientific Name: Amelanchier arborea
Location: Keathley University Center (KUC)
N 35° 50’ 89” W 86° 21’ 94”
Named because first blooms of spring used for funerals.

Serviceberry LeafServiceberry TagRedbudServiceberry WinterServiceberry Tree

 

Eastern Redbud (Cercis Canadensis)

Scientific Name: Cercis canadensis
Location: Keathley University Center (KUC)
N 35° 50’ 86” W 86° 21’ 95”
Pink flowers are first blooms of spring; heart-shaped leaves.

Redbud TagRedbud Leaf 2Redbud BloomRedbud Leaf Redbud Winter

Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Scientific Name: Juniperus virginiana
Location: Walnut Grove
N 35° 50’ 48” W 86° 22’ 10”
Wood repels insects; used for cedar chests.

Red Cedar TagRed Cedar BarkEastern Red Cedar Tree

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Scientific Name: Pinus strobus
Location: President’s Lawn
N 35° 50’ 72” W 86° 22’ 28”
Wood is lightweight and flexible; many uses

Eastern White Pine TagEastern White Pine LeafEastern White Pine Tree

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Scientific Name: Cornus florida
Location: Ezell Hall
N 35° 50’ 74” W 86° 21’ 66”
How can you identify a Dogwood? (The bark)

Flowering Dogwood TagFlowering Dogwood LeafFlowering Dogwood WinterFlowering Dogwood

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Scientific Name: Ginkgo biloba
Location: Peck Hall
N 35° 50’ 87” W 86° 22’ 10”
Nonnative included for unique leaf and cones; in fossil record.

Ginko Biloba TagGinko Biloba LeafGinko Biloba TreeGinko Biloba WinterGinko Biloba Cone

Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Scientific Name: Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Location: Cope Administration Building (CAB)
N 35° 50’ 76” W 86° 21’ 18”
Extensively planted as an ornamental tree

Green Ash TagGreen Ash LeafGreen Ash TreeGreen Ash Winter

Kentucky Coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus)

Scientific Name: Gymnocladus dioicus
Location: Courtyard between Science Building and LRC
N 35° 50’ 83” W 86° 21’ 89”
An uncommon tree; produces large brown seed pods.

Kentucky Coffee Tree TagKentucky Coffee TreeKentucky Coffee Tree Biology LeafKentucky Coffee Tree BiologyKentucky Coffee Tree Biology Winter

Northern Catalpa (Catalpa speciose)

Scientific Name: Catalpa speciosa
Location: Jones Hall
N 35° 50’ 55” W 86° 22’ 04”
Flowers produce long seed pods that resemble cigars.

Catalpa TagCatalpa CigarCatalpa FlowerCatalpa LeafCatalpa TreeCatalpa Winter

Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

Scientific Name: Thuja occidentalis
Location: Todd Hall
N 35° 50’ 89” W 86° 22’ 06”
Common arborvitae, not a true cedar.

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

Scientific Name: Quercus palustris
Location: Science Building Courtyard
N 35° 50’ 76” W 86° 21’ 89”
Symmetrical tree with reddish-orange fall foliage.

Pin Oak TagPin Oak BiologyPin Oak LeafPin OakPin Oak Winter

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Scientific Name: Acer rubrum
Location: McFarland Building
N 35° 50’ 96” W 86° 21’ 80”
One of the first trees to turn colors in the fall; first spring flowers.

Red Maple TagARed Maple BarkRed Maple Winter

River Birch (Betula nigra)

Scientific Name: Betula nigra
Location: Business and Aerospace Courtyard (BAS)
N 35° 50’ 79” W 86° 21’ 82”
Exfoliating Bark is a characteristic to look for.

River Birch TagA

September Elm (Ulmus serotina)

Scientific Name: Ulmus serotina
Location: Kennon Sports Hall of Fame
N 35° 51’ 17” W 86° 22’ 04”
Fruits in September; American Elm stricken by blight.

September Elm TagASeptember Elm WinterSeptember Elm Bark

Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)

Scientific Name: Carya ovata
Location: James Union Building (JUB)
N 35° 50’ 92” W 86° 22’ 19”
The sweet nuts provide food for wildlife.

Shagbark Hickory TagShagbark Hickory BarkShagbark Hickory Bark 2Shagbark Hickory Tree

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Scientific Name: Magnolia grandiflora
Location: Tom H. Jackson Building
N 35° 50’ 54” W 86° 22’ 10”
Planted in front of first dining hall at MTSU.

Magnolia TagSouthern Magnolia FruitMagnolia TreeMagnolia LeafSouthern Magnolia Bark

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Scientific Name: Acer saccharum
Location: Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building
N 35° 50’ 78” W 86° 21’ 63”
Sap has twice the sugar content of other Maples.

Sugar Maple TagSugar Maple LeafSugar Maple 2Sugar Maple BiologySugar Maple Winter

Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii)

Scientific Name: Quercus michauxii
Location: Tennis Courts
N 35° 51’ 22” W 86° 22’ 16”
Fall leaf color primarily yellow; large acorns valued by all.

Swamp Chestnut Oak LabelSwamp Chestnut Oak TreeSwamp Chestnut Oak BarkSwamp Chestnut Oak Winter

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana)

Scientific Name: Magnolia virginiana
Location: Davis Science Building
N 35° 50’ 49” W 86° 22’ 00”
Produces large white lemon-scented flowers in the spring.

Sweetbay Magnolia TagSweetbay MagnoliaSweetbay Magnolia Winter

Sycamore (Plantus occidentalis)

.Scientific Name: Platanus occidentalis
Location: Science Building near Library South Parking Lot
N 35° 50’ 71” W 86° 21’ 86”
Native Americans used this tree for medicinal purposes.

Sycamore TaSycamore LeafSycamoreSycamoe Winter

Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Scientific Name: Liriodendron tulipifera
Location: President’s Lawn
N 35° 50’ 68” W 86° 22’ 25”
One of the oldest trees on campus; present in 1911 campus photo.

Tulip PoplarTulip Poplar LeafTulip Poplar WinterTulip Poplar Tag

White Ash (Fraxinus Americana)

Scientific Name: Fraxinus americana
Location: Alumni Drive / Cope Administration Building (CAB)
N 35° 50’ 88” W 86° 21’ 82”
Valued for its strength and elasticity; used for baseball bats.

White Ash TagWhite Ash TreeWhite Ash LeafWhite Ash Winter

White Oak (Quercus alba)

Scientific Name: Quercus alba
Location: Peck Hall
N 35° 50’ 91” W 86° 22’ 12”
Acorns have no dormancy and germinate immediately.

White Oak TagWhite Oak LeafWhite Oak ImageWhite Oak Tree

Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)

Scientific Name: Quercus phellos
Location: Quad / James E. Walker Library
N 35° 50’ 80” W 86° 21’ 85”
Widely planted as an ornamental; lumber used for crossties.

Willow Oak Biology TagWillow Oak Biology LeafWillow OakWillow Oak Winter