When Davie Poplar Jr. was planted 100 years ago at UNC-Chapel Hill, people on campus assumed that the tree would soon be the only Davie Poplar remaining on McCorkle Place.
The planting served as a backup plan for the aging Davie Poplar that had stood on campus since before the University opened in 1795.
“The Davie Poplar had been through some rough times, and the Davie Poplar Jr. was an attempt to kind of preserve that legacy when the original tree was gone,” said University Archivist Nicholas Graham.
Today, the now century-old tulip poplar tree stands alongside the original Davie Poplar as one of Carolina’s iconic landmarks.
March 16 marks the 100th anniversary of the planting of Davie Poplar Jr., which established a royal line of trees that have been cherished by the University for generations.
“The idea was that when the Davie Poplar falls down the Davie Poplar Jr. would assume the title of the Davie Poplar, just like a king or queen ascending to the throne,” Graham said. “If the Davie Poplar is the king tree, then Davie Poplar Jr. is the prince waiting to take the throne.”
Legend has it that if the Davie Poplar falls, the University falls with it, Graham said. Though the origin of the myth remains unknown, Carolina isn’t taking any chances.
“It’s the symbol of the life of the University,” Graham said. “What they’re doing by continuing the legacy is another way of ensuring that there will always be a Davie Poplar here.”