A branch of connection

Two trees on the University of Michigan campus have ties to the tree under which Greek physician Hippocrates allegedly sat centuries ago. In these 2014 photos, the older tree stands tall near the Medical Science Building II, while the descendant tree sits on the North Campus Research Complex grounds. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)

 If you look hard enough, history can even be found in the trees at U-M. According to ancient lore, Greek physician Hippocrates taught medicine under the branches of a sycamore tree. Just after World War II, John B. Sarracino brought to campus a cutting taken from the “Hippocratic Tree” on the Greek island of Kos. It was planted in 1980 at the dedication of the Medical Science Building II, where it has grown near the circle drive. Attempts to grow trees from its cuttings were unsuccessful. Decades later, in 2014, Ian Ashken, director of the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, and his wife, Nancy Ashken, a U-M alumna, helped bring to the Medical School a direct descendant — a clone — of the sycamore tree under which Hippocrates is said to have taught. The sister tree was planted on the NCRC grounds near Building 18.

— Compiled from the Medical School website, and the North Campus Research Complex website


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