Pine Grove (Area K)
Continuing eastward, walkers will pass Russell Hall, bringing them back to the ‘original campus’ area, Russell was constructed in 1931, and originally housed a gym and theater. Russell Hall is currently home to USM’s Theater Department. Turning south from Russell, the tour crosses University Way and brings walkers into the pine grove, the final section of the USM Arboretum walking tour. Although the pine grove was extensively damaged by the weather events of 1998, many native aged members of the pine family can still be found here. The Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobes) (K-1), identified by its clumps of five needles, is a very common tree species in Maine, and is the state tree. Although the native tree is one of the fastest growing landscape pines, it is extremely intolerant of common air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and ozone. The Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) (K-2) is also found here. The Pitch Pine is identified by its clumps of three needles. It is salt tolerant and can subsist in very dry, barren environments.
This area is also home to the Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) (K-3), and the Royal Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata) (K-4). The native Swamp White Oak does well here due to its affinity for acidic soil. The Royal Star Magnolia is popular for its pinkish-white fragrant flowers that appear with the first of April. It is also hardy in Maine and requires very low maintenance. Next in line is the Frontier Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Frontier’) (K-5), planted for its considerable resistance to Dutch Elm disease and its unique, vase-shaped habit. A Stella Pink Cornus (Cornus x ‘Stella Pink’) (K-7) and Constellation Dogwood (Cornus x ‘Constellation’) (K-8), both erect and low-branching in habit, grace either side of Corthell Hall’s east entrance. Heading along the northern side of pine grove, walkers can find a larger example of a Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) (K-9). The beautiful fan-like leaves yellow in the winter and can linger until December. Also present here is a Donald Wyman Malus (Malus sp. ‘Donald Wyman’) (K-10), planted for the ceremonial kickoff of the Arboretum on Earth Day, April 22, 2001.
The flowerbed in front of Corthell is home to a Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora) (K-11), several Vanderwolf Pines (Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’) (K-13), and next to the flagpole a Redvein Enkianthus (Enkianthus campanulatus) (K-12). Although the Japanese White Pine, like other pines, is susceptible to insect and disease, it adapts to many soil types and is very salt tolerant. The Vanderwolf Pines are attractive evergreens with a bluish-green tint to their long, pliable needles. These trees are very hardy and adapt well to changing climates. The Redvein Enkianthus is a shrub-like tree that has been known to reach 20 feet high and demonstrates beautiful fall colors. Directly next to the planting bed and parking lots stand a Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry (Prunus x ‘Snofozam’) (K-6).
At the final stop of the USM Arboretum walking tour is a pair of Pagoda Dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia) (K-11). The low horizontal branches become covered with extremely fragrant yellowish-white flowers in May to early June. Placed in front of Russell Hall, this area is the embodiment of the University’s beginning, and is a symbol of the connection between the past and the future.
The planting of these understory trees, and of Spice bush (Lindera benzoin), Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and Vernal Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis) in the Corthell pine grove, symbolize the University’s continued efforts to enhance and promote diversity on campus, and make decisions today that will last into the future.
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