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Vol. LXV, No. 22
October 25, 2013

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‘Tree of Hippocrates’ Felled, Replacement Due Soon

The Tree of Hippocrates, a campus landmark since its planting in 1961, was felled Sept. 14.

The Tree of Hippocrates, a campus landmark since its planting in 1961, was felled Sept. 14.

Photo: Richard Wyatt

After testifying since 1961 to NIH’s endorsement of the Hippocratic Oath, the Tree of Hippocrates—a gift of the Embassy of Greece—and its stump were removed on Saturday, Sept. 14. The tree had been in failing health since 1990, and did not re-leaf this past spring, said Lynn Mueller, NIH landscape architect.

“The trunk was mostly hollow and rotten,” he said. “Four new cloned replacement trees are expected to arrive in late October or early November. The National Library of Medicine [near which the original tree was planted] is planning a rededication for the new tree but has not set a date yet. The NLM tree will be planted in the same place as the original tree. Another will be planted in front of the Clinical Research Center and the other two will go into one of our reforestation areas as back-up should any of the first two fail.”

Identical brass plaques will be placed at the NLM and CRC trees following their plantings, Mueller added.

On hand at the felling was Dr. Richard Wyatt, deputy director of the Office of Intramural Research. He took photos of the removal. “NLM is storing large pieces of the remaining tree for future use,” he said. “The replanting will be a milestone event.”

The cloned replacements will arrive from a northern Michigan nursery and currently stand about 6 feet tall.

According to legend, ancient Greek physician Hippocrates taught students under the original sycamore, cuttings from which provided the NIH tree. The replacements were cloned at the Archangel Ancient Tree nursery in Copemish, Mich.

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