April 24, 2007

Happy Birthday Bur Oak 

This massive Bur Oak lives in the front lawn of the Natural History Building on the corner of Green Street and Matthews in Urbana. According to Geography Professor Bruce Hannon, it's the oldest living thing on the University of Illinois campus. Now 200 years old, the tree "was a sapling when the prairie fires swept easterly across what is now Champaign, routinely consuming everything before them," says Professor Hannon. "The wetlands that became the campus subdued these fires, allowing only the hardiest trees to survive. The Boneyard creek stopped the spread of the fire and allowed the Big Grove to flourish beginning in what is now downtown Urbana, and spread eastward. Only remnants of that grove remain, along with our most famous tree. It is important to learn the impact on the landscape we have had over that last 200 years. This living survivor provides us with a starting point." You can help celebrate Earth Day and a Bur Oak Birthday Party at 4 pm this Friday, April 27th at the tree itself. The Grand Prairie Friends will present landscape drawings, and give away Oak seedlings with growing instructions. Growing things that last: what a good idea!


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