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History: State champion Japanese Zelkova

Champion Japanese zelkova 2-845
The champion Japanese zelkova tree has multiple trunks. Its champion status is based only on the size of the largest one. Photo by Steve Baskauf licensed under CC BY

The Japanese zelkova tree that stands next to the Owen School is one of the most noteworthy trees in the arboretum. Of the seven Tennessee state champion trees mentioned in The Trees of Vanderbilt in 1994, this is the only one that is still a reigning champion

Location of champion zelkova on 1897 map
The state champion Japanese zelkova was originally planted along the road from the main campus entrance to Wesley Hall. 1897 map from Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives Campus Map Collection.

Another reason for this tree’s fame is that it was said to have been planted by Bishop Holland McTyeire, who was instrumental both in the founding of the university and in planting thousands of trees during its first decades. At the time of its planting, it stood along the main road that led from the original gates of the university to the entrance of Wesley Hall (now Library Lawn).The sidewalk and drive leading from the Law School towards the loading dock past the tree follows the path of that old road.

Return to the historical tree tour page for Japanese zelkova 2-845.