Generations of Clemson University students, alums, and their families have enjoyed the beauty and shade of the massive Centennial Oak, a bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) that has been “growing strong” since at least 1889. Located between the Biosystems Research Complex and Newman Hall, the tree serves as a beloved campus landmark and gathering place. It is also one of many favorite tailgating spots for Tiger fans.
At 66-feet tall, with branches that reach 124 feet, this record-setting bur oak was just a seedling when Clemson was founded 120 years ago. Based on age studies conducted by foresters, the tree was designated the Centennial Oak when the university celebrated its 100th birthday in 1989. Bur oaks normally live 150-300 years.
The Centennial Oak is also one of South Carolina’s “Champion Trees,” a designation that means it’s the largest of its species in the state. Champion trees are determined by precise measurements of a tree’s trunk circumference, height, and average crown spread.
South Carolina also has 14 National Champion Trees including the largest loblolly pine and the largest swamp tupelo in the country, both located in Congaree National Park in Richland County. The National Champion rosebay rhododendron is in Sumter National Forest in Oconee County, and the country’s largest winged elm is at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.
Learn more about other renowned South Carolina Trees.