One of 25 cuttings from the tree of knowledge
One of 25 cuttings from the tree of knowledge
24 July 2015

Being constantly surrounded by beautiful trees at the University of Queensland, it’s easy to take the grand greenery for granted.

But the St Lucia campus is home to some of Brisbane’s most iconic and famous foliage, which is being highlighted to celebrate Planet Ark’s 20th National Tree Day.

UQ Senior Grounds Supervisor and resident tree expert Shane Biddle said the St Lucia campus was home to almost 6000 trees.

“We are currently in the process of planting more, particularly down on the river banks,” Mr Biddle said.

“It not only helps hold the riverbank, but creates a habitat for native wildlife.”

Early this month hundreds of volunteers turned out to turn sod, planting more than 5000 trees on the banks of the Brisbane River, adjacent to Emmanuel College.

Another 5000 trees will be planted in the coming months.

Sustainability Manager Stuart Green said trees did much more than just providing a picturesque campus.

“They improve air quality and amenity in and around buildings, and this has been linked to increased productivity,” Mr Green said.

“Naturally, they also keep a lot of species alive by providing shelter, food and oxygen.”

So what are the famous trees of UQ St Lucia?

The Tree of Knowledge cutting

When the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology’s then-Executive Dean, Graham Schaffer, was given a cutting of the famous ghost gum from Barcaldine, he donated it to be planted at UQ.

The Tree of knowledge, famous for the 1891 shearer’s strikes and as the birthplace of the Labor movement, was poisoned in 2006, with only 25 cuttings saved to be replanted.

The Dalai Lama tree

In 1981 the Dalai Lama visited the St Lucia campus and planted this Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa) to celebrate 30 years of Buddhism in Australia.

The Lady MacGregor tree

This magnificent weeping fig was planted at the founding of UQ in 1909 by Lady MacGregor, the wife of the then-Governor of Queensland and the first Chancellor of UQ.

Its plaque has a fitting description which reads “To plant a university tree which I hope will grow and flourish as we expect the university to do.”

Bush Tucker Gardens

Edible bush plants have been an important part indigenous Australian diet for centuries, and there are more than 5000 different bush food species in Australia.

There are two bush tucker gardens at UQ, with plants that can be used for food and medicine.

UQ St Lucia is also known for its famous jacarandas, which bloom in October and November.

While the peaceful purple petals are a striking spectacle, some superstitions have sprouted over the years, due to the flowering coinciding with exam block.

“If a jacaranda flower touches you, it either means you will pass or fail your exam, but I can never remember which one,” Mr Biddle said.

National tree day on 26 July, aims to connect people with nature, beautify neighbourhoods and inspire positive environmental change through planting trees.

Media: Casey Fung +61 7 3346 7887