Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)

Parking lot C Map

Seemingly forgotten in parking lot C, everything about this tree is large - except the tree itself. Its leaves can reach a length of 3 1/2 ft., with a breadth of a foot or more. Its flowers (late spring and early summer) can be 20 inches across. Bigleaf magnolia also is known by a half-dozen other names in its native southern Appalachians including, according to Jacobson, "Elephant Ear".

What, you might well ask, is this somewhat special tree doing in the mass of disordered foliage lining the cliff that separates the two halves of Parking Lot C? Don't worry; I'll tell you. During the 1970s, at a time when students lived on campus, professors walked there, and parking lots were rare, that particular piece of parking lot was the location of a beautifully rustic little house. Its owner, an elderly lady at the time, had a garden - from which she intermittently rousted deer, rabbits and others of God's hungry creatures - including, probably, an occasional assistant professor. Now the house and lady are gone, as are the deer and rabbits, and the assistant professors are all Emeriti, or Deans. The Bigleaf magnolia, and its neighbor, an apple tree, are the nostalgic remnants of that little garden.