ABC’s of UMD: Letter W

W is for WILLOW OAK!

Ever tried to use the Leafsnap app on your phone on the trees that line McKeldin Mall? Did you come up with the answer “Willow Oak?”

One hundred-twenty-nine willow oaks, Quercus phellos, line the Mall, forming the spectacular Willow Walk. According to Karen Petroff, the Assistant Director of the Arboretum/Horticultural Services for UMD, the willow oaks were planted in the early 1940s. Estimates are that the largest of the trees were about five years old at that time, so they are now about 80-85 years old.

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Surprisingly the willow oak is not the most abundant tree on campus. It comes in third behind the red maple, Acer rubrum, and the pin oak, Quercus palustris.

The maintenance of all campus trees and plants is the responsibility of the university’s Arboretum and Botanical Garden (ABG) staff. As noted on the ABG website, the idea for the Arboretum began as a partnership between the Departments of Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture and Facilities Management. Their first projects were an inventory of all the trees on campus and development of a master plan for the campus landscape. In addition to the extensive efforts it takes to maintain the university’s natural environment,the Arboretum staff also conducts research, runs a series of educational programs, and coordinates a cadre of volunteers who assist in their work.

Since the campus was designated an Arboretum and Botanical Garden in 2008, the National Arbor Day Foundation has named the university a Tree Campus USA for seven straight years. 

You can find more information about the university’s Arboretum and Botanical Garden here.

This is the 23rd post in our series on Terrapin Tales called ABC’s of UMD! Posts will come out twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, throughout the semester. If you want to learn more about campus history, check back weekly to see what we’ve picked to highlight, and you can also visit our encyclopedia University of Maryland A to Z: MAC to Millennium for more UMD facts.

Do you have other ABC’s about campus? Let us know in the comments below!

Check back on Friday, November 20, for Letter X!

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