The upper western terrace adjacent to the Cecil Purser Wing contains two very large specimen Deodar Cedars (Cedrus deodara). These trees (18-20 metres in height and 15-16 metres canopy spread) would be amongst the larger known examples of this species in the City of Sydney LGA (excluding the Royal Botanic Gardens). The American Cottonwood (Populus deltoides) is a further outstanding specimen of considerable scale.
The Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima) is one of only a few known mature specimens in the City of Sydney LGA (refer to Victoria Park listing in this Register).
The grounds of the University of Sydney contain an exceptional collection of significant trees, many of which are important elements in association with heritage listed buildings and road precincts. A number of places and items are scheduled on the Register of the National Estate, the State Heritage Register, City of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 and classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW). At a group level, the significant trees within the University are considered to be one of the City of Sydney’s more important collections in terms of the special combination of aesthetic, scientific, botanic, historic, social and commemorative values.
Many of these trees are of exceptional value, creating landscapes of high visual and aesthetic quality and a unique sense of place. The University’s significant trees are typically associated with the curtilage of historic buildings, building facades, boundaries to colleges and along the campus boundaries, ovals and sportsgrounds, internal roadways and pedestrian walkways, courtyards and a broad range of ancillary spaces. These trees tell the stories and aspirations of people. They also provide historic markers in the landscape, describing the way the campus developed over time and its close links with Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Victoria Park (refer to other listings in this Register).
It would appear that most of the tree planting associated with the College dates from the late Inter-War Period and the Post WWII period. Review of the 1943 aerial photos of this area reveal that the Deodar Cedars (Cedrus deodara) were not planted until probably some time in the 1950’s as they were not present in the 1943 photos.
There appears to be a row planting of very young trees in the vicinity of the other scheduled items in 1943, but they appear very evenly spaced and probably were all the same species, which would not marry with the more eclectic planting seen today. One possibility may be that the Sawtooth Oak (Quercus acutissima) was planted as a row planting and several specimens may have failed and were later replaced with the other species at a later date.