What Happened to the Blue Tree?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

bluetree1.jpgThe Blue Tree, a long-time fixture of the Swarthmore campus, will be missed. By Rhoda Maurer, Scott Arboretum.

On January fifteenth, 2008, a beloved member of our campus community passed away (finally). The Blue Tree–so long a part of those odd things which make Swarthmore, Swarthmore–succumbed to a chronic battle with wood rot and, well, death.

The Blue Tree, formerly know as Maackia chinensis 96-126*B, began its life as an oddly colored plant (Arbor caerulis) in October 2005 when it died the first time. Scott Arboretum Director Claire Sawyers and the then Curatorial Intern Todd Rounsaville painted it blue and gave the tree the tough news of only a projected year or two left on earth.

bluetree2.jpg‘Fiona Sunrise’ and the Blue Tree in better days. By Diane Mattis, Scott Arboretum.

Despite this, the Blue Tree outlived all expectations. When the Blue Tree was found fallen over, its (also blue) accession tag was returned by Sue Stark, Gardener/Volunteer Coordinator, to the Arboretum office. It was then mailed to Todd as a memento of their time together.

The Blue Tree is survived by its partner, Jasminum officinalis ‘Fiona Sunrise’, who was steadfastly there for support through the long decline. Services were held by the arboretum shortly after the tree was found. Fiona asks that students try not to step on her while paying their respects or getting to class.


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