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The Discovery and Significance of Burly, Wright State's Massive Bur Oak

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It’s affectionately known as ‘Burly’ – the largest tree in Wright State University’s campus woods and estimated to be about two centuries old. And it’s just now being unveiled for a little tree-watching. The bur oak was originally discovered eight years ago by biology professor Don Cipollini, director of Wright State’s Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program in the College of Science and Mathematics. He had been surveying part of the woods for trees in which bats may roost when he found it. “The fact that a tree of this size and age exists in a natural setting on a college campus is unique,” said Cipollini. “The tree is close to a small access road, but it sort of hides in plain sight. I had not thought much about it until this year when I got really immersed in searching for large majestic trees across the state during my sabbatical.” The bur oak is about five feet in diameter, with a trunk that rises about 10 feet and then divides into two main trunks. It has a fairly spreading form, which indicates that the area was more open during the tree’s formative years – perhaps 100 to 150 years ago – allowing its main branches to spread widely. Burly – dubbed by Cipollini – hulks close to the campus prairie, nearly two acres of wildflowers and grasses that attract birds, butterflies and other insects. The prairie was brought back to life starting in 2016 by the Department of Biological Sciences. It runs northwest from the Wright State Nutter Center parking lots to University Drive next to the Mini University childcare center.

Additional Files

Don Cipollini - Cipollini, Burly, the bur oak presentation.srt (35 kB)
Ciipollini - trancript


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The Discovery and Significance of Burly, Wright State's Massive Bur Oak

It’s affectionately known as ‘Burly’ – the largest tree in Wright State University’s campus woods and estimated to be about two centuries old. And it’s just now being unveiled for a little tree-watching. The bur oak was originally discovered eight years ago by biology professor Don Cipollini, director of Wright State’s Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Program in the College of Science and Mathematics. He had been surveying part of the woods for trees in which bats may roost when he found it. “The fact that a tree of this size and age exists in a natural setting on a college campus is unique,” said Cipollini. “The tree is close to a small access road, but it sort of hides in plain sight. I had not thought much about it until this year when I got really immersed in searching for large majestic trees across the state during my sabbatical.” The bur oak is about five feet in diameter, with a trunk that rises about 10 feet and then divides into two main trunks. It has a fairly spreading form, which indicates that the area was more open during the tree’s formative years – perhaps 100 to 150 years ago – allowing its main branches to spread widely. Burly – dubbed by Cipollini – hulks close to the campus prairie, nearly two acres of wildflowers and grasses that attract birds, butterflies and other insects. The prairie was brought back to life starting in 2016 by the Department of Biological Sciences. It runs northwest from the Wright State Nutter Center parking lots to University Drive next to the Mini University childcare center.