University of South Carolina

Taking a final bough

By Peggy Binette,, 803-777-7704

The live oak across from the patio behind the Osborne Administration building will take its final bough this week. The tree, believed to be the oldest tree on campus and severely injured from a lightning strike more than five years ago, will be removed as early as Thursday (June 20) for pedestrian safety.

Tom Knowles, assistant director of landscaping and environmental services, says the tree was braced and cabled and closely monitored and cared for since the lightning strike. He says over time the cracks resulting from the lightning strike have become wider and longer. A limb measuring approximately 12 inches in diameter and 30 feet in length that fell from the tree across the walkway June 10 underscored the university’s concern about safety, making the tree’s removal necessary.

“We place a tremendous value on our campus trees, and we understand that people have emotional connections to trees because of the beauty and important benefits they provide for us. This live oak is perhaps the oldest tree on campus and has been a sentinel for generations that have spent time on our Horseshoe grounds,” Knowles says. “The decision to remove this tree was an agonizing one but in the end must be done to protect the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

The tree, 62 inches in diameter, has three large boughs that shoot midway up from its base and are supported by braces and cables.

Knowles says plans call for planting another oak in its place. He says the replacement is expected to be a 4 inch caliper tree that would measure approximately 20 feet with a canopy of 15 feet.

USC is known for its urban forest and care of trees. It has been named as a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for the past four years. In 2011, the university completed a tree inventory to ensure that the campus forest would be sustained for future generations. More than 3,700 trees have been added in past 10 years, with 1,200 trees added in 2012. Today, more than 90 different species of trees are part of Carolina’s urban forest.

Knowles says the removal of the live oak will take up to four days. The rings will be counted to determine the tree’s approximate age, and discussions are underway for how the wood will be used.

News and Internal Communications

Posted: 06/17/13 @ 3:45 PM | Updated: 06/24/13 @ 3:45 PM | Permalink