One of Columbia’s Oldest Known Trees Was a Gift from the New York Botanical Garden

Spindle tree (Euonymus bungeanus)


Nathaniel Lord Britton SEAS 1879, a Columbia professor of botany and a co-founder, along with his wife, Elizabeth Gertrude Britton, of the New York Botanical Garden, was instrumental in acquiring one of the Morningside campus’s oldest known trees. Britton was in charge of Columbia’s botany department and herbarium in the late 1800s and became the first director of the NYBG in 1891. Columbia donated its herbarium and many of its botany books to the garden in Britton’s honor when the campus moved uptown in 1897. It is thought that to reciprocate the gift, the garden gave Columbia a tree for its new campus — the spindle tree (Euonymus bungeanus) that grows on the lawn to the left as you face Hamilton Hall.