Trees at University College Cork

Trees at University College Cork

Botanical Gardens UCC circa 1890 (c) National Library of Ireland Botanical Gardens at UCC circa 1890 (National Library of Ireland)


Queen's College Cork (now UCC) was established in 1845 and teaching began in October 1849.One of the first jobs of the newly formed college was to progress a museum of Natural History (Zoology, Botany, Geology) and to develop a Botanical Garden.

Rev. William Hincks (1794-1871) was appointed first Professor of natural History at Cork in 1849, despite having applied for the Chair in Botany alone.

Hincks played a major role in developing the museum, botanic gardens and herbaria at Cork, even at one point making himself ill through the effort he spent on the projects.

An early report of the President of the College notes: "The collections of Botany and Zoology, however, have been brought to a more advanced condition of classification and arrangement by the zeal and assiduous co-operation of Prof. Hincks who devoted  himself to that object, although being quite beyond and independent of what his statutory duties should require, and indeed at one time to the injury of his health".

Prof. William Hincks; First Professor of Natural History at Cork Hinks' father, Thomas Dix Hincks, had as part of the Royal Cork Institution, established a short-lived botanical garden some distance from the site of the University and the son was keen to set out the grounds of the new college as a new garden for Cork. This was despite some feeling that such a thing was a luxury the college could do without.

William Hincks recieved the support of the then President Kane and started a garden on campus which would, "as far as climate will allow" give "illustrations of all the orders" and be used for teaching "medical students and economic plants".

In a letter to William Hooker Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Hincks appealled for samples to add to the collection: "We have just laid out a small Botanic garden in connexion (sic) with the College. Our object is to have every medical or economic plant which will bear the open air in our climate...great hopes that everlong we shall have a small but very useful conservatory but at present we only want hardy things. Will it be in your power to spare us a few interesting things from the magnificent Collection under your care?"

Since its instigation by Hincks in the 1840's to the present day, the grounds of UCC has developed into an environment rich in plant diversity with a large collection of native and exotic tree species forming an important part of the campus.

A number of the trees are Irish 'Champions' and all complement the range of buildings across the college - from the historic Quadrangle to the iconic Glucksman Gallery.

University College Cork welcomes visitors and as well as taking in the buildings of note on the campus, visitors should look out for the array of significant (and historic) trees that remain a unique inheritance from the staff and students that have gone before us.

Visitors can view an Interactive Map of Significant Trees on Campus by clicking here. The map was developed by the Ofice of Buildings and Estates as part of the Green Campus Initiative.

To whet your appetite, here are a few of the most impressive trees on campus:

The first is a very special tree - the largest of its types in Ireland. This Chinese Privet (Ligustrum lucidum) is 9 metres high and 3.19 m in girth and is classified by the Tree Council of Ireland as an "exceptional specimen tree".

The species is the largest growing of its genus, reaching up to 25 m in height.
Chinese Privet  
Willow   The next is an impressive specimen of weeping willow (Salix babylonica). The species is native to China and gets its species name, apparently, from a misunderstanding by Linnaeus, who catalouged it, and thought it was a tree mentioned in the Bible: "By the rivers of Babylon... hung our harps upon the willows".
The last image is of a pair of magnificant Giant Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) located at the entrance to the Boole Library. The species is the only living species in the genus and can live for up to 1800 years or more. The species contains the tallest trees on earth, reaching up to 115 metres in height.  Giant Redwood 

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K