The University of Alabama has been named “Tree Campus USA” for eighth consecutive year.


The development of The University of Alabama demonstration tree nursery represents the institution’s dedication to providing a beautiful campus while promoting sustainability and making use of heirloom and historical trees. Since its creation, the tree nursery has successfully grown hundreds of trees from seeds for use around the university’s campus. The nursery showcases seedlings descended from many historic trees, including numerous specimens on the Bryce Campus, the President’s Mansion magnolias, the Gorgas house live oak, and the Quad water oaks.

The project was inspired by the abundant seeds dropped by the grand magnolia trees on the Bryce Campus. Previously, when trees on campus needed to be planted or replaced, they had to be sourced from nurseries across Alabama or neighboring states. The observation of the school’s already rich arboreal resources led to the establishment of UA’s own nursery. The primary management of the program is overseen by campus landscape architects Bonner Lee and Guy Reynolds and is run in partnership with UA Facilities & Grounds, the Forest Stewards Guild, and with the support of numerous volunteers.

Over the past several years, the tree nursery has become home to numerous southern magnolias, live oaks, and gingkoes sourced from various locations across campus. In addition, the project has involved the replanting of removed trees from around the campus and surrounding community, an effort that has been highly successful. Beyond preserving the legacy of these beautiful trees, the program offers practical benefits to UA. It reduces the cost of campus upkeep by eliminating the need to acquire trees from external nurseries. By sourcing trees directly from campus, the program also minimizes carbon emissions associated with transportation.

The tree nursery operates as a largely self-sustaining initiative, utilizing seeds and acorns collected from campus trees, and repurposed pots for seedlings. Even the soil used is created on-site from a mixture of leaf litter and landscape debris collected from campus.

The tree nursery draws from the support of the UA student community, from organizations such as the Forest Stewards Guild and Forest Dynamics Lab. Overall, the program has proven to be highly successful and represents a significant step forward in providing a beautiful campus and promoting sustainability at The University of Alabama.