Severance Green

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.




Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005