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UA home to the largest Southern Magnolia tree in Alabama

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The University of Alabama is home to one of the largest magnolia trees in the state.

Earlier this month, the Alabama Forestry Commission recognized a Southern Magnolia located on UA's Bryce Preserve as the current largest of its species in Alabama, naming it an Alabama Champion Tree.

The Alabama Forestry Commission present Bonner Lee with University Lands the certification of being named a Tree Campus USA.
The University of Alabama News Center
The Alabama Forestry Commission presents Bonner Lee with University Lands the certification of being named a Tree Campus USA

The AFC measured the tree as part of Alabama’s Champion Tree Program, which aims to discover, recognize and preserve the largest trees of each species in the state.

The Alabama Forestry Commission created the Champion Tree Program in 1970. Multiple UA students were involved in the measurement of the tree that led to the AFC recognition.

UA students David Phillips and Aurora Baker help measure the Southern Magnolia tree.
The University of Alabama News Center
UA students David Phillips and Aurora Baker help measure the Southern Magnolia tree.

Bonner Lee, campus landscape architect, said the designation of the title is based on height, width and circumference. “The one we just measured is 70 feet tall, 292 feet circumference around the trunk, and then it’s 72 feet with the crown width across it.”

The Champion Tree Program designation will not be official until the end of July. Lee said it is possible that another tree could be measured in Florence that is larger than the one in Tuscaloosa.

Lee said the Southern Magnolia on campus has likely been there since the beginnings of Bryce. “It’s all natural. The tree is very old. It’s on the Bryce campus and is in our Bryce Preserve. So, it’s been there a long time. Probably since Bryce began back in the 1800s,” he explained.

The University of Alabama was also named Tree Campus USA for the eighth year in a row. The Arbor Day Foundation created the Tree Campus program in 2008. Lee said the Tree Campus designation recognizes efforts on campus to preserve forests' health.

“Tree Campus USA is good for creating the recognition for our campus forests, and it also shows the commitment to the University administration for keeping healthy trees,” he explained.

Luke Pollock preferred the weather channel to children's programming since the age of two. He started at the University of Alabama in 2022 and began at Alabama Public Radio the following year as an intern. Luke has a passion for writing and interviewing, and he likes to know how money works. He’s majoring in economics.
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