Vanderbilt brand

Urban legends



Legend: The arboretum contains every species of tree in Tennessee.
Fact: Not true. There are a number of native species not represented, such as Crataegus harbisonii, Fraxinus quadrangulata, Aralia spinosa, etc.

Legend: Somebody gave a million dollars to label the trees
Fact: Not true. This legend originates from incorrect information in a 1987 Vanderbilt Register article which was subsequently corrected in Vanderbilt Register vol. VII no. 40 p.2 (July 10, 1987). The actual amount given in 1968 was $15,000 into an endowment to honor James Mapheus Smith. For more information, see the history of the arboretum.

Legend: In order to be an arboretum, Vanderbilt has to ...
Fact: There are actually no particular requirements to be called an arboretum. However, in 1988 the campus was registered with the American Public Gardens Association (APGA) as an arboretum.

Legend: The arboretum contains seven Tennessee state champion trees.
Fact: In 1994, the arboretum did have seven champion trees, and this was recorded in The Trees of Vanderbilt, p.7. However, since that time at least four have died and two have been dethroned by larger trees elsewhere. One champion tree, a Japanese zelkova remains.

Legend: There is a haunted graveyard somewhere on campus.
Fact: There actually are several graves on campus. Bishop McTyeire, an important figure in the early history of the university, had the graves of several important local bishops moved to campus soon after the university started. Landon C. Garland, the university's first chancellor was buried at the same site. McTyeire himself is also buried there; in Chancellor Kirkland's inagural address in 1893 he noted "under the shade of magnolias that his own hand planted, he sleepeth well". Those magnolia trees still grow there today next to the stone monument that marks the burial site.