Populus  canescens    (Trysting Tree)    Main Page   Info Back

The Trysting Tree at Oregon State University

      The Trysting Tree, a large Gray Poplar (Populus × canescens) located southeast of Benton Hall, was a popular gathering spot on campus.  According to one story, George Coote, a faculty member in Horticulture, planted the tree between 1880 and 1885.  An early alumnus claimed that the Trysting Tree was so named because of its "magical effects on students, especially in springtime".  [A "tryst" is defined as an agreement to meet (as between lovers), or a meeting place.]  The tree's popularity was such that the Board of Regents felt obliged to place two arc lights on the cupola of Benton Hall (then the administration building) "to keep the tree from being overworked".  On September 27, 1987, the original Trysting Tree was cut down because of advanced disease in its trunk and limbs.  Prior to its removal, Jack Stang (Department of Horticulture) took several cuttings from the tree and rooted them.  One these "off shoots" (Trysting Tree II) was planted in 1982 near the original tree.

A poem, published in 1908, entitled The Trysting Tree, begins:

Beneath the faithful Trysting Tree,
A youth and maiden stand:
The youth, a noble lad is he,
Who claps the fair white hand;
The light that fills those earnest eyes,
Who can understand?
Its final lines are:
Long may'st thou live, thou worthy friend
Thou dear old Trysting Tree
Long may thy branches proudly wave
Majestic'ly and free
To mind us of those happy days
Spent at old O. A. C.*

O. A. C., Oregon Agricultural College, the previous name of Oregon State University.