By Zoe Need, Environmental Quality and Land Use Intern
Since IU’s beginnings, trees have been an important feature of campus landscaping and culture. Trees reduce energy costs by producing shade, absorb carbon dioxide and air pollutants, and absorb storm water. Additionally, trees add aesthetic value to campus. From 2015 to 2016, a handful of IU Office of Sustainability interns have worked to create a comprehensive tree inventory. This inventory will be used by both the academic and operations side of IU. See if you can spot some of our most common trees on your walk to class!
Sugar maple, Acer saccharum
A favorite pancake topping and Indiana staple, maple syrup, comes from the deciduous sugar maple tree. Sugar maple leaves often become multicolored in the fall. Sugar maples have leaves with rounded notches instead of angular notches like the silver maple. These trees are scattered all over campus, but look in front of the WIC for a grove of them.
Flowering dogwood, Cornus florida
Flowering dogwoods are small trees that often grow on the outer edges of forests. The leaves are opposite and turn red-brown in the fall. In the spring, flowering dogwoods have showy pink or white flowers with four petals. The fruit of a dogwood is eaten by campus birds. Find flowering dogwood trees right inside Sample Gates, framing the entrance to campus.
Landscapers sometimes consider eastern redbuds to be shrubs, because the tree grows with twig-like branches and pink buds. Campus also features whitebud trees, with the same characteristics but with, you guessed it, white buds instead of pink ones. These trees typically grow in forest understory. Many of these trees grow at the corner of 3rd Street and Jordan Avenue.
Northern red oak, Quercus rubra
The northern red oak is one of IU’s most common trees, and it is also one of its most valuable. Red oak leaves turn red-brown in the fall, and the trees produce round acorns that are smaller than white oak acorns and larger than pin oak acorns. One of the largest trees on campus is a northern red oak on the south side of the Auditorium in Bryan Hollow.
There are a few breeds of crabapple trees on campus. These trees have bright flowers and produce small fruits that resemble apples. Crabapple trees encourage pollination by bees. Find crabapple trees north of Read Residence Center by the Jordan Avenue Parking Garage.