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What’s A Buckeye? A Tree On Penn State’s Campus, Believe It Or Not

Penn State is obviously known as Nittany Lions territory, but University Park is also home to another Big Ten mascot — the Buckeye.

That’s right, planted smack in the middle of campus is an Ohio Buckeye tree, which, of course, grows the Buckeye nut — the fearsome mascot of Ohio State.

And this isn’t just any ordinary tree. The Ohio Buckeye, located near the southeast corner of the Armsby Building, is recognized as one of Penn State’s heritage trees because of its “exemplary representation” of its species, “including its large size, stature, and form,” according to Director of the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Kelleann Foster. The buckeye also stands out for its sweeping branches.

Buckeye Tree

“Rarely are trees allowed to maintain the full, native form. The low branches of this tree that swoop down and touch the ground are beautifully unique. Oftentimes trees with lower hanging branches they are limbed up or pruned, but this never was,” she said.

While most buckeyes average a height of about 40 to 60 feet, this tree is about 98 feet tall, according to a 1991 measurement listed in the book “The Notable Trees of Centre County” from the Centre County Historical Society. This particular buckeye is also unique because of its location. Buckeyes usually grow from Western Pennsylvania through northeastern Texas, so Penn State is slightly out of its native range. For such a large and impressive buckeye to grow here is special, Foster said.

The tree’s age is anyone’s guess. Foster didn’t know the tree’s age, and it’s not it listed online or in “The Notable Trees of Centre County.” Still, the tree is in good condition, Foster said, and its designation as a heritage tree means Penn State pays close attention to keep it in good shape, so university staff are extra careful when doing work nearby. Heritage trees like the buckeye are also given priority and are specially protected during campus planning.

Buckeye Tree

“For example, if a new infrastructure piping was being considered for this area, the design of the pipe location must steer well clear of disturbing the tree, including its wide spreading root zone,” Foster explained.

This is perhaps the only buckeye Penn Staters are fond of. 

About the Author

Mindy Szkaradnik

Mindy is a senior majoring in Print Journalism, Spanish, and Global and International Studies. She is the 12th member of her family to attend Penn State, she loves Bruce Springsteen, and her friends are always making fun of her for talking too much about study abroad. She can be reached on Twitter (@mszkarad) or via email ([email protected]).


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