Big trees in the Vanderbilt Arboretum
Vanderbilt brand
What's a big tree?
What does it mean to be a "big" tree? The National Register of Big Trees and Tennessee Champion Trees list use a point system based on three charactistics that make a tree "big": the circumference in inches + the height in feet + 1/4 the average crown spread in feet.

The biggest trees
Based on this kind of "score", the library's willow oak (2-1030) has a slight edge in the contest for largest tree on campus. However, the margin of error in measurement is great enough that there is essentially a four-way tie.
Seeing the big trees
A "Trail of Giants" tree tour is under construction. You can take the tour now, although the descriptive text for each tree isn't finished.

About this list
The primary criterion for inclusion in this list is that the tree has a diameter of 1 meter (40 inches) or more. The list also includes individual trees that are the largest known examples of their species, regardless of their diameter. Those trees are listed on bold type. If the tree has a web page, it is linked to the tree's ID code. To see the location of the tree, click on the "location" link. In cases where the tree is near a road, Google Street View can be used to view the tree.

The list below includes many of the largest trees on campus, and will be extended as more trees are measured. In particular, there are probably some large hackberries that need to be added. We are still collecting data on the height and crown spread and will update the list as we obtain that information. The list is ordered by points where available; otherwise the trees are listed in order of diameter.

A more extensive public database is at

If you interested in knowing how old the trees might be, see How old are trees in the Vanderbilt Arboretum?

ID codespeciesdia. (cm)dia. (in.)height (m)height (ft.)ave. crown spread (m)ave. crown spread (ft.)points*locationnotes
2-1030 Quercus phellos (willow oak) 13553 31.7104**29.396295between the central library and Benson Chapel
2-691 Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) 14959 25823098291between Rand and Garland Halls the Bicentennial Oak
2-244 Celtis laevigata (sugarberry) 14657 28.5942169291Divinity School courtyard
2-123 Quercus falcata (southern red oak) 13252 3210527.590291between Godchaux Hall and 21st Ave.S.
3-589 Ulmus americana (American elm) 12549 311023098281by the Beta Omicron Pi house on 24th Ave.S.
9-379 Quercus phellos (willow oak) 15461 23751859281between 1114 19th Ave.S. and Edgehill
2-795 Quercus phellos (willow oak) 11746 321052685271near library loading dock and 21st Ave.S. crosswalk
2-1021 Quercus shumardii (Shumard oak) 12850 27892892270south of Furman Hall
2-161 Quercus alba (white oak) 11746 289234.5113265between Kirkland Hall and Curry Field
4-487 Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) 134.553 258217.858263in front of Buttrick Hall second magnolia north of entry walk
4-855 Celtis laevigata (sugarberry) 12348 299517.557262west of Community Partnership House
1-683 Quercus rubra (red oak) 11846 29.59720.567260in front of Payne building on Peabody Esplanade
2-437 Quercus imbricaria (shingle oak) 11445 30.299**2066256against the south side of the central library
2-253 Celtis laevigata (sugarberry) 12650 227227.891251between the Law School and Calhoun Hall
1-625 Quercus palustris (pin oak) 11344 27.59022.584251northeast part of Magnolia Lawn
2-638 Fraxinus americana (white ash) 11144 289224.580249west of Furman and north of Benson Halls
2-402 Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) 11846 26***862169249northwest corner of Furman Hall
N/A Quercus rubra (red oak) 115.546 26852479248in front of the University School of Nashville located on USN property but included for historical reasons
4-522 Celtis laevigata (sugarberry) 13152 206622.574246south of Community Partnership House
3-419 Quercus rubra (red oak) 10642 2892***2685245north end of Alumni Lawn
3-62 Populus deltoides (eastern cottonwood) 11043 27892066241Kensington and 24th Ave.S.
3-327 Quercus shumardii (Shumard oak) 10441 2790***25.584239south side of sidewalk in front of Cole Hall Big Al's twin
9-4 Tilia americana (American basswood) 124.549 216919.363239in front of 1110 19th Ave.S.
1-730 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 122.548 22.5741549238center magnolia along Magnolia Circle on south side of Magnolia Lawn
2-209 Quercus nigra (water oak) 12047 20.56721.871234north of Benson Hall
3-52 Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) 10341 258227.590232south of Cole Hall
4-702 Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) 9437 27892995229largest tree in Stevenson Courtyard
1-429 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 12047 206617.557228Magnolia Lawn east of Kennedy Center
2-411 Maclura pomifera (Osage orange) 12449 175620.868226east of Calhoun Hall
2-1036 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 11445 216918.561225east of Kirkland Hall; third tree north of curve in drive
2-319 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 11846 206616.554225between Rand and Old Central has second 59 cm diameter stem
4-943 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 10943 2272***1962223in front of Buttrick Hall south of the entry walk
2-528 Ulmus serotina (September elm) 8333 28.694**20.567218between Benson and Garland Halls
2-247 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 11043 18.5611858211in front of the central library veering north
2-182 Catalpa speciosa (northern catalpa) 11144 1860***1652211between Garland Hall and the Divinity School
2-663 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 10943 18.5611652209northeast of Bishop McTyeire's tomb trunk splits just above measured height
2-1002 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 10642 19621757208between Kissam dorms and Curry Field Trunk splits into two at head height.
2-185 Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo) 10039 185923.577202between Kirkland and Barnard Halls "Galloway's ginkgo"
2-461 Magnolia grandiflora (southern Magnolia) 10742 15491550194east of Kirkland Hall; second tree north of curve in drive
3-140 Quercus muhlenbergii (chinkapin oak) 9738 14***4422.574183by the Station B post office entrance
2-584 Quercus velutina (black oak) 11545 east of Rand and north of Bicentennial Oak only black oak on campus
1-672 Quercus phellos (willow oak) 10642 by entrance to Susan Gray playground on Magnolia Circle
1-298 Quercus rubra (red oak) 10541 between the Susan Gray playground and 21st Ave.S.
2-780 Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree) 10441 between Kirkland and Furman Halls
2-499 Quercus nigra (water oak) 10140 west of Calhoun Hall
1-68 Quercus alba (white oak) 100.540 on the Peabody Esplanade by the library
4-891 Carya illinoinensis (pecan) 9839 between McTyeire and the Round Wing
1-1278 Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm) 8333 southwest of Peabody Administration Building mistagged as Ulmus serotina
4-208 Sophora japonica (Chinese scholar tree) 75.530 20***641652171east of Buttrick Hall former state champion
3-99 Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash) 7429 between Phi Delta Theta and Zeta Beta Tau houses
4-616 Juglans nigra (black walnut) 7228 18***581962163between McTyeire Hall and the Round Wing
2-791 Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia) 5823 196217.858149east of the drive near Kirkland Hall Trunk splits three ways just below breast height; would be over 200 points if measured below the split.
2-845 Zelkova serrata (Japanese zelkova) 6024 west of the Owen School state champion tree, planted by Bishop McTyeire
4-474 Aesculus glabra (Ohio buckeye) 54.521 Between McTyeire Hall and the Round Wing former state champion tree
1-81 Aesculus flava (yellow buckeye) 5121 southwest of Peabody Administration Building
2-70 Magnolia virginiana (sweetbay) 3413 against the south wall of Kirkland Hall, on the right former state champion tree
1-375 Cornus florida (dogwood) 3212 6.6228.92968west side of Magnolia Lawn on north side of the sidewalk This tree is probably over 100 years old.

* Points are calculated according to the criteria used in the National Register of Big Trees: the circumference in inches + the height in feet + 1/4 the average crown spread in feet.

** Measured in feet by the Civil Engineering CE-161 class in April 2014.

*** Measured students from the Vanderbilt School for Science and Math. Measured value has asterisks.

Except as noted, English values are rounded conversions of the SI units. The diameter measurements should be quite accurate. The height and crown spread measurements are crude estimates and will hopefully be improved over time. Therefore, differences among trees of only a few points are probably not significant due to measurement error.