Blue Trail

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A self guided walking tour of the diversity of trees found on the West Lafayette Campus, the Blue Trail leads you to trees around the northwest part of campus, which includes the Visitor’s Center, Armstrong Hall of Engineering, Elliot Hall of Music, and Beering Hall of Liberal Arts and Education. Trees on any of the Tree Trails can be identified by dark brown wooden post labels.

Corylus colurna (Turkish Filbert)

Turkish filbert is a native of southeastern Europe. The tree grows to approximately 40 feet in height, with a pyramidal form. It is known for its ability to withstand drought and pollution problems.

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Quercus rubra (Red Oak)

Red oak is the most commercially important oak. It is a desired timber and ornamental species and can be easily transplanted. Fine furniture and veneer are manufactured from red oak. This particular red oak was originally in the way of the construction of Armstrong Hall. When this was pointed out, the building was redesigned in order to preserve the tree.

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Acer griseum (Paperbark Maple)

As the name suggests, this tree’s most outstanding feature is its bark. Much like a birch’s, the bark of this tree peels back in paper-thin sheets to show a beautiful cinnamon color. This maple is an import from China and, like most maples from Asia, remains relatively small, growing to 25 feet in height.


Sassafras albidum (Common Sassafras)

Best known for the tea made from its roots, this first forest export from the 'new world' also produced a popular red dye. After forest disturbance, the seeds and root suckers of the sassafras tree sprout aggressively.

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Koelreuteria paniculata (Goldenraintree)

The outstanding feature of the golden-rain tree is its showy clusters of bright yellow flowers that bloom in late June or early July. The tree’s large seed pods turn an attractive bronze color in the fall.

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Ulmus pumila (Siberian Elm)

Commonly called Chinese elm, this tree is often planted for its shade because of its rapid growth rate, but this species of elm is weak-wooded and has continuous dieback problems once it reaches a large size. This characteristic makes Siberian elm undesirable for landscaping purposes.

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Gymnocladus dioicus (Kentucky Coffeetree)

The coffeetree bears stout twigs and large, feathery, compound leaves up to three feet long. Locally scarce, the tree is used for ornamental purposes. Pioneers roasted the seeds for imitation coffee.

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Quercus alba (White Oak)

White oak is an important hardwood timber tree and the best cooperage wood in the U.S., used in the construction of buckets, pails, and barrels. This tree produces acorns that are eaten by many species of wildlife. It is the state tree of Maryland and Illinois.

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Nyssa sylvatica (Black Gum)

This is a tree with eye-catching features throughout much of the year. It has a neat, pyramidal form that shows well in all seasons. The leaves are a dark, glossy green in the summer and turn to orange and scarlet in the fall. The alligator hide-like bark is another striking characteristic.

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Quercus michauxii (Swamp Chestnut Oak)

This is another oak that normally grows in warmer climates. It is also called basket oak for the baskets made from its wood and cow oak because cows like to eat its acorns.

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Carya × nussbaumeri (Hican)

This tree is a hybrid of pecan and shellbark hickory. It was developed to produce a nut with the taste of pecans but with the weaker shell of shellbark hickory.

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Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsuratree)

The Katsuratree has a leaf that is similar in shape to that of the eastern redbud, except for the rounded teeth found in this species. This tree will grow to be 40 to 60 feet tall with an oval shape.

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Fraxinus americana 'Junginger' [sold as Autumn Purple®] (Autumn Purple White Ash)

Its straight, clean form and springy wood have made this tree a favorite since the time of the pioneers. Uses for the wood include skis, tool handles, baseball bats, and crutches. Ash also provides excellent fuel wood. Ash was frequently used as a landscape tree but the arrival of the emerald ash borer to our area makes it a poor choice for planting today.

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Fagus sylvatica 'Purpurea' (Purple-Leaf European Beech)

This species is similar to the American beech but has a darker gray bark. It grows up to 60 feet tall and 45 feet wide. This tree is growing at the site of John Purdue's grave.


Zelkova serrata 'Halka' (Halka Japanese Zelkova)

An Asian cousin to our native elm, this tree has gained popularity in the U.S. because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease and its tolerance of urban conditions. In youth, the bark is a smooth gray with numerous lenticels. As the tree matures, the bark becomes scaly and peels off, exposing oranges and reds.

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Quercus acutissima (Sawtooth Oak)

This oak grows best in southern climates. The chestnut-like leaves are a dark, lustrous green.

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Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood)

This small tree is also called lilly-of-the-valley tree due to its drooping clusters of white flowers. The leaves can turn a brilliant red in the fall.

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Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Dogwood remains a favorite for landscape use. The small size of the tree lends itself to city plantings, and the flowers are beautiful. Birds are attracted to the red berries. Dogwood is the state tree of both Missouri and Virginia.

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Betula papyrifera 'Renci' [sold as Renaissance Reflection®] (Renaissance Reflection Paper Birch)

This cultivar appears to be resistant to bronze birch borer, an insect that attacks and kills most other white-barked birches.

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Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust)

Black locust grows faster than many of its eastern forest companions. Its timber is used for making fence posts and railroad ties. It resprouts from stumps so readily that it can take over fence rows, fields, and clearings.

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Peirce Pines (Campus Features and Green Initiatives)

These various pines were planted in 1874 by Martin Peirce, whose regular donations of funds and labor changed the campus landscape. They are part of a long row that, at one time, ran from this site to the east side of Stanley Coulter Hall and around toward the Recitation Building. The tall, narrow Douglas fir in front of Recitation was part of that planting.

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Tilia americana 'Redmond' (Redmond American Linden)

Basswood, often referred to as linden or linn, has many useful qualities. Flowers from the basswood tree provide a rich commercial honey. The ropiness and flexibility of the wood has proven to be valuable for use in livestock fencing gates. Native Americans made rope from the inner bark.

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Taxodium distichum (Common Baldcypress)

This tree is one of two species on campus that lose all of their needles in the fall. The needles come out late in the spring and give the tree a soft, feathery appearance. They turn a rich bronze color before dropping.

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Quercus macrocarpa (Bur Oak)

Bur oak is native to the central U.S. It is a slow-growing, stout tree typical of the oak family. It produces an acorn with conspicuous fringes around the cap.

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Ulmus parvifolia 'UPMTF' [sold as Bosque®] (Bosque Lacebark Elm)

This is an upright, pyramidal shaped tree with attractive multicolored, exfoliating bark. It will grow to a height of 45 feet with a spread of about 30 feet.

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