1984 Ohio State Big Tree Champion
Sweet Oak (Quercus mullenbergii)
This mighty oak section is from the Ohio State Champion Sweet Oak (Quercus mullenbergii) that resided just in front of the current main entrance of Pearson Hall. Although trees have the capacity to outlive humans by 150 to 5,000 years, this specimen died at about 250 years, right around the time this building was constructed. Lest you be concerned, it was in its final death throes, prior to construction of this building, and did not die as a result of the construction process.
The section you are looking at was harvested in 1984, but we don't know from what height it was taken. Using annual growth ring counts we have determined that the slab before you dates back to 1752, the year Ben Franklyn invented the lightning rod. This invention did not benefit this particular tree, since it was struck by a lightning bolt in 1958, at which time it was probably the highest structure in this area of campus, being adjacent to the Miami football stadium at that time. You can see the traumatic wound of this lightning strike if you look at the base of this slab around 5 o'clock. There have been at least four other trees struck by lightning since 1980 in this general vicinity, but our buildings are protected by Franklyn lightning rods. The take-home-message: Go into a building, don't stand under a tree when a thunderstorm comes passing!
This tree lived through the period in time that coincides with the establishment of the United States of America as a nation, the creation of the Northwest Territory that ultimately gave rise to the state of Ohio, the founding of Miami University, and the creation of the Department of Botany within our fine institution. To explore these time lines in terms of this tree's rings please visit http:_____________.
This tree's lifetime also coincided with the development of modern biological thought. Major significant breakthroughs are highlighted via the attached display markers on the section.
It is humbling to realize that throughout our struggle to understand life's great mysteries, plants continue to provide the very essence of our existence, yet say not a word, else revealed through our own understanding of their necessity.