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The University of Arizona's trees are among the oldest in the state, or are, in other ways, unique. Since 2001, the Campus Arboretum has been successful in nominating and receiving recognition for the following trees on our campus as Great Trees of Arizona by the Arizona Department of State Lands. All of these trees are also UA Heritage Trees. For more information on the Great Trees of Arizona program go to the Arizona Community Tree Council's GreatTrees website.
Adansonia za This large African tree graces the SW corner of the Administration Building. Family Bombacaceae. It is the only flowering individual tree of its species in the US, according to a botanist at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Seeds brought from Madagascar were germinated in Virginia, and the seedling was subsequently held to 15 gallon size at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. It was installed by Warren Jones on campus around 1980. Designated a Great Tree of Arizona, 2002.
Acacia xanthophloea Planted in 1980's, the UA fever tree is another example of an experiment that succeeded beyond all hopes. Seeds provided by Warren Jones. Now being grown by Desierto Verde, according to an article by Alan Dunstan in ARIDUS, Dec 1999. Often used in African safari theme parks. Supposedly tender here, but thriving and always a source of curiosity with its yellow powdery bark. Only one on campus. Largest in Tucson, probably largest in Arizona.
Chorisia insignis (Synonym: Ceiba insignis) Native of southern Brazil and Argentina. Although its original planting date was not recorded, Professor Emeritus Steve Fazio remembers this stately giant as being large and healthy when he arrived on campus in 1940. The UA Herbarium has a 1957 specimen that includes a pressed flower from that exact tree. Largest in Tucson, maybe largest in Arizona. Winter deciduous, but even as the leaves drop in late fall, the creamy lily-sized flowers remain through December or January if not damaged by frost.
Crescentia alata One of only three on campus, and by far the largest. No others known in Tucson. Family Bignoniaceae. Located on the SE side of the Main Library, this tree is unique for its bat pollinated flowers and fruits that develop on the trunk. Cross-shaped leaves, evergreen, fruits used as bowls and vessels. Seed collected on western coast of Mexico, germinated at UA Campus Agriculture Center. Small tree planted by Warren Jones, in 1970's, as experiment.
Quercus virginiana This dark vigorous spreading tree was planted by former Professor of Plant Sciences Dr. Steve Fazio around 1950. Steve tells how he planted several acorns in the Park Ave. Green Belt area, and this one remains. Undoubtedly it is the largest southern live oak in Tucson. Although this species is common in the nursery trade, such was not the case in 1950. This tree gives a dignified indication of the potential size of the species.
Rhus lancea Although the species is not unusual, and is now being thought of as undesirable because of its tendency to reseed, the value of this individual tree lies in its unique history. Former UA President Homer Shantz collected the seeds in South Africa in 1919. They were propagated in Chico CA, then installed on the UA campus in 1928. This makes this tree the first African Sumac planted in Tucson, for better or worse. (Another one was installed at Boyce Thompson SW Arboretum about the same time).
Quercus suber Native to Mediterranean. Largest of its species on campus, and quite possibly the largest in Tucson. It was planted on the south side of the Engineering Building prior to 1940. No one remembers who planted it. One voucher specimen at the UA Herbarium that dates to 1936. Steve Fazio, former Professor of Plant Sciences, remembers showing his young children the tree in the late 1940s. He used it when he introduced students to the trees on campus. More recently, alumni who were on campus in the 1960s remember using it as part of a fraternity initiation ceremony. Today students of botany, landscape architecture, ecology, and other sciences learn about the centuries-old technique of sustainably harvesting cork by peeling off the bark. A Campus Arboretum Heritage Tree.
Albizia sinaloensis Native to southern Sonora and Sinaloa. Found in the tropical deciduous forest and arroyos toward the coasts throughout these states of Mexico. This tree was planted as a seedling by Warren Jones in the mid 1970s. In Trees of Sonora, Mexico, R. Felger states that the species can become as tall as 20 meters. Unusual for Tucson, it is undoubtedly the biggest in town. This tree is an excellent example of Warren was trying to achieve: a tree perfectly suited to the urban microclimate, which thrives in a site with little care, eventually becoming a noble example of a species.
Pistacia chinensis Native to China and Far East Although not rare, this tree is a noble example of the species, illustrating the eventual size and stature. (Currently some landscape projects are planting these 20 feet on center or closer). When Warren Jones arrived in the late 1960s, the tree was in place. The UA Herbarium has a specimen which is dated 1969. Campus photos from the 1960s show a good size tree, but it is difficult to find a photo with a seedling. For over four decades, the tree has been a fixture in the Historic District of the UA campus where it stops traffic each fall with its unusually brilliant foliage. A Campus Arboretum Heritage Tree.