Quercus bicolor

Quercus bicolor

I take the train to work, and every morning I get off the train and begin walking to the Scott offices from the very bottom of Magill Walk. Every day I am amazed at the beauty of this allée and am humbled by the age and size of some of the oaks. Magill Walk was planted in 1879 and dedicated in 1881 with an allée of Quercus bicolor, swamp white oak. Several of the original trees have succumbed to storms and disease, but younger replacement trees have been planted to continue the tradition of the allée. When many students arrive on campus, Magill Walk is their first grand impression of Swarthmore College and the Scott Arboretum.

The swamp white oak is native to North America and is a member of the Fagaceae family and the white oak subgroup. The Latin name bicolor refers to the distinctive two-colored appearance of the leaves: green on the upper surface and whitish on the under surface. Also, the dark brown bark of the branches peels away in curls exposing the lighter colored bark underneath. Its rounded leaf lobes are characteristic of all oaks in the white oak subgroup and they are deciduous and alternate. In the wild, this tree is found along streams and swampy soils. They are very long-lived trees that can tolerate soil compaction, drought, and salt exposure. The swamp white oak allée remains beautiful all year long, with breathtaking fall color, majestic branching structure in the winter, and a lush, green, shaded walkway in spring and summer.

Would you like to spend more time among these amazing trees? Please join us for a fabulous evening this Thursday, June 12 from 6-8 pm along the swamp white oak allée on Magill Walk while enjoying the company of friends and the flavors of Whirlwind Wit from Victory Brewery. Sunset Sippin’: Swamp White Oaks and Whirlwind Wit entrance fee includes: hors d’oeuvres, tastings of the featured drink. The evening will also include a raffle for great prizes, as well as tours by Arboretum staff. Register now!

Liz Haegele
  • Liz Haegele
    Posted at 15:25h, 11 June Reply

    Rhoda, I never heard you tell this story! It’s great! I, too, remember taking the train on one of my first visits to Scott and encountering Magill Walk and being completely blown away.

  • Len Swift, Class of '37
    Posted at 10:57h, 21 July Reply

    I well remember those handsome oaks, and a smelly ginkgo tree on a short cut path from Wharton to the old Library. The Scott Arboretum is such a gift. Carry on. Len

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