Legacy Oaks of the Francis Quadrangle

For the past six decades, majestic pin oaks (Quercus palustris) have encircled the University of Missouri’s Francis Quadrangle, one of the most visited, photographed and cherished places on campus.


These oaks keep company with MU’s iconic Columns — all that remains of Academic Hall, destroyed by fire in 1892 — and some of the University’s oldest and most attractive buildings, including Jesse Hall.


Planted 60 years ago, the remaining 15 of the original 26 pin oaks were sadly nearing the end of their natural lifespan of 70 to 90 years, somewhat foreshortened by damage caused when an irrigation system was installed in the 1990s.


Determined to be immediately hazardous to pedestrians and buildings, five of the mature oaks were removed in July 2018 and precarious limbs were removed from the remaining trees at that time. Prior to that, six had been removed, four of which fell prey to bacterial leaf spot. Replacing the trees with varieties better adapted to current conditions on the Quad was a solution that was neither easy — starting with removal of the pin oaks — nor inexpensive.


Landscape Services and Mizzou Botanic Garden (MUBG) convened a group to advise the campus on procedural logistics and selection of replacement trees. The group advised removal of the pin oaks, replacing them within two to three years with white oak species, which are better adapted to growing conditions on the Quad and Missouri in general. MUBG worked with Forrest Keeling Nursery in Elsberry, Mo., to supply replacement trees that will live for 100 to 200 years.


The five species of oak chosen for the project are:
Quercus bicolor, Swamp White oak
Quercus lyrata, Overcup oak
Quercus macrocarpa, Bur oak
Quercus x ‘Jillian Anne Young’
Quercus x schuetti, Schuette’s oak


Specimens of these five trees were planted on MU’s South Farm to reach a moderate size, readying to take their place as The Legacy Oaks on the Francis Quadrangle.


As soon as classes let out in May, the remaining pin oaks were removed. The Legacy Oaks are going in over the course of the summer. Several generous donors have “sponsored” a tree, commemorated with a 7-inch by 12-inch bronze plaque at the base of the tree.


You may make a direct gift online or give us a call or email us for more information on how to help ensure the lasting beauty of the Francis Quadrangle, the heart of Mizzou: 573-882-4240 or garden@missouri.edu.


Jeff McGinn
Lead Annual Giving Officer