Are you tired from all of those stairs? That's due to Wellesley's
campus planners, including Central Park designer Frederick Law
Olmsted, who situated buildings on top of hills. The idea was
that one would emerge from a building with a view into a valley,
then descend into the valley and see the next building as a vista
on another hill. So here we are in the Academic Quad, another
example of a glade. You won't find many species here besides red and black
oaks, gray squirrels,
and some shrubs planted along the academic buildings. Virginia
creeper and Boston ivy climb
up the sides of the buildings.
Now you might be wondering about about the thick black rings
around the trunks of the oaks. Well, they come with an interesting
story, which began in nearby Medford, Massachusetts in 1856 when
an enterprising French immigrant named Etienne Leopold Trouvelot
decided to try and produce silk from a caterpillar he introduced
to the country, a caterpillar that taxonomists then considered
to be closely related to the silkworm. It turned out that this
mysterious foreign caterpillar was no relation to the benign
silkworm; instead, it was the gypsy
moth larva, which would go on to wreak havoc on trees on
Trouvelot's street, in his town, and throughout New England.
The black rings are tar, an innovation of the Gypsy Moth Commission,
which was formed in 1868. The idea was that the caterpillars
would get trapped in the tar as they made their way down the
tree before hatching. In reality, however, the caterpillars don't
climb down trees...Trouvelot, by the way, fled the country soon
after the moth outbreak began, and was never heard from again.
So now we'll cross the Academic Quad, being sure to admire Galen
Stone Tower and listen for the carillon, and then we'll head
down the steps by Founders Hall and stop, facing the library
and Severance Green.