Now, with Founder's Hall to our left a slightly behind us, let's
look down and left, into the evergreen leaves of Rhododendron
Hollow. Like the white birches at Paramecium Pond, rhododendrons are
Wellesley landmarks. This hollow bursts into bloom right around
graduation, and pink and white rhododendrons adorn the campus.
Rhododendrons at Wellesley date back to the College's founder,
Henry Fowle Durant, who experimented with different varieties
of the species. His experiments included developing varieties
that can survive up here in Massachusetts, which is on the northern
end of the rhododendron's range. Though they are beautiful plants,
don't eat their toxic leaves; they have been known to cause convulsions
and coma! Cardinals and tufted titmice feed on the plant, however.
Look to your right, at the huge tree on the hill across Severance
Green. It's a white oak,
and since it doesn't have to compete for space in a forest canopy,
its trunk and branches have spread horizontally as well as vertically.
Oak forests are the dominant type of woodland in Massachusetts,
and white oaks are distinguished by their leaves with rounded
lobes and by their sturdy, massive, often gnarled trunks and
branches. This particular tree is a unique specimen because it's
a Class Tree of the Wellesley Class of 1920. It is the only class
tree on campus that was not planted by the class &endash; its
size shows that it began growing long before 1920. White oak
is sometimes used medicinally to treat ailments such as poison
ivy, sore throats, and even cancer.
As we continue along this path and bear right before reaching
the library, take a closer look at the white oak, as well as
at Severance Green, which in the earlier days of the College
was used as a town meeting spot. Let's walk toward Green Beach
and then turn left onto the lake edge path.