The University of Montevallo’s trees have a rich history

Published 5:06 pm Monday, March 11, 2013

Arborist Herschel Hale talks about this Live Oak, the offspring of the Treaty Oak in Selma. (Contributed)

Arborist Herschel Hale talks about this Live Oak, the offspring of the Treaty Oak in Selma. (Contributed)

By CATHERINE LEGG / Community Columnist

Montevallo is proud of its trees. Evidence is the fact that the city was just awarded its 22nd annual Tree City designation by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Herschel Hale, arborist and chair of the Arbor Board, told us some interesting stories about his favorites.

He explained the huge red oaks in front of Main Dorm on the UM campus are more than 100 years old. They were probably planted not long after that dorm was built.

Oh, if they could only talk!

About 20 years ago the American Forestry Association began seeking out trees of historic value and harvesting their acorns, nuts, and cuttings to grow and sell. When they sell one of these seedlings, they send along a certificate and a history of the parent tree.

The first of these to come to Montevallo was the gift of a George Washington Tulip Poplar seedling from a tree that Washington is said to have planted. That gift blooms beautifully in Hale’s yard every spring.

Another is the Live Oak in the parking lot at City Hall. That tree is a descendent of the Treaty Oak under which it is thought the city of Selma was surrendered to the Union forces in 1865. Montevallo’s tree was planted 14 years ago, and is now a beautiful full tree that could grace that area 300-400 years.

Then, the George Washington Carver Honey Locust in Orr Park is the offspring of a tree planted by that famous man in Tuskegee. It’s about 20 feet off of the pavement on the left, and across the trail from the gazebo. Seek out, while you are there, the 15 other trees that are marked and identified.

UM’s Red Oaks represent only one of a wide variety of trees there, and the brochure, Red Brick Walking Tour, available at the Chamber of Commerce, describes and gives the location of 32 of those. It is thought that at one time there was, on the campus, a tree of every variety native to the state of Alabama.

Take a walk on a beautiful day this spring, find these trees, and enjoy remembering Hale’s stories.

Catherine Legg can be reached by email at