Norm Stewart, UofSC’s landscaping manager, groundskeeper Dave Gross and UofSC student Carter Moore planted Sebastian the Trident Maple Friday outside the Osborne administrative building. Photos by Sebastian Lee

The University of South Carolina planted a new tree during an Arbor Day celebration on the last day of classes Friday. 

Arbor Day is the annual holiday dedicated to planting trees. While it’s typically observed in the spring, on the last Friday of April, the university celebrated during the first week of December because the conditions for planting in South Carolina are more ideal in the fall.

Planting in the fall allows the trees to be more established for the hot South Carolina summer, according Kevin Curtis, the assistant landscape manager. While the tops of the trees may not thrive, the roots still do.  

In April, UofSC was named a Tree Campus Higher Education university by the National Arbor Day Foundation. It’s one of 392 campuses in America with that designation.

In order for universities and colleges to be recognized as a Tree Campus Higher Education college or university, they must establish a campus tree advisory committee, show evidence of a campus tree care plan, verify the plan’s annual expenses, observe Arbor Day and create a service-learning project aimed at engaging the student body.

“Being a tree campus higher ed is really just showing our commitment to the forest that’s on the campus,” said Norm Stewart, the university’s landscape manager. 

UofSC has more than 7,000 trees and 90 different species on campus.

“One of their (students, faculty and staff) first comments about being on the campus is just the beauty of the campus. A lot of that has to do with the trees,” said Stewart.

Curtis likes to name all the trees he plants. Friday’s addition to campus, Sebastian the Trident Maple, can be found in the Osborne administration building parking lot a short walk from the Historic Horseshoe. 

Sebastian will reach maturity in about ten years. It’ll be a medium sized-tree that will add some color in the fall, according to Curtis.

“We have a lot of big shade trees in the area, so this is more for habitat and color,” said Curtis.

Sebastian’s leaves will turn a reddish orange color in the fall. As the tree’s namesake, the author of this article is excited to see it grow.

For the two landscape managers, Arbor Day stands out because of its effect on the future. At many times during the planting, they quoted UofSC Naturalist in Residence, Rudy Mancke: “Arbor Day is the only holiday that honors the future, not the past.” 

The Trident Maple is expected to reach full maturity in around ten years.

UofSC’s Landscape Manager, Norm Stewart, and Assistant Landscape Manger, Kevin Curtis, sit in front of one of their favorite trees, Norm the Ginko Tree. Norm was named by Curtis in honor of Stewart.