Image: Thomas Nuttall. “Quercus macrocarpa” from François André Michaux. The North American Sylva: or A Description of the Forest Trees of the United States, Canada, and Nova Scotia, Considered Particularly with Respect to Their Use in the Arts, and Their Introduction into Commerce; To Which Is Added a Description of the Most Useful of the European Forest Trees. Philadelphia: Robert P. Smith, 1852. Volume 1, Plate 6. Vanderbilt University Special Collections, Stanley F. Horn Collection
This winter, Vanderbilt University has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Forestry in a biodiversity effort to gather acorns from the white oak to be grown into seedlings and distributed across the state. In recognition of that work, we are highlighting the remarkable acorns produced by the Quercus macrocarpa as seen in François André Michaux’s North American Sylva. Taking over from his father André who worked on the project from 1785 to 1796, François André published Historie des Arbres Forestiers de l’Amérique Septentrionale in 1810 in Paris. Augustus L. Hillhouse translated the book in 1819 with illustrations by Pierre-Joseph Redouté and others. Vanderbilt’s 1852 edition is the work of John Jay Smith, who added his notes and the illustrations of Thomas Nuttall.
Quercus macrocarpa is also known as the Bur Oak. Its leaves have rounded lobes and its acorns fringed caps that almost cover the acorn. Vanderbilt University’s Bicentennial Oak, a Bur Oak, is the only extant campus tree to predate the university’s founding in 1873. Located near Old Central, originally the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Foote, the tree is thought to have sprouted in the latter half of the 18th century. For more information about the campus trees, and to see images of the Bicentennial Oak in archival photographs, visit the Vanderbilt Arboretum History.
Greensleeves, traditional English folk song. David Schnaufer, dulcimer. Recorded by Jack Masters, 1978. From the David Schnaufer Collection, Anne Potter Wilson Music Library, Vanderbilt University.