The Bigger Picture: Grounds’ Most Famous Tree Signals the End of Fall

November 9, 2022 By Dan Addison, Dan Addison,

For more than a century, it has been the University of Virginia’s bellwether of the transition from comfortable autumn days to the approaching chill of winter. The majestic Pratt Ginkgo tree on the northwest side of the Rotunda is among the last of the trees to burst into full fall color, well after the peak of leaf season passes in Central Virginia.

The ginkgo biloba tree planted in 1860 was named for William A. Pratt, a civil engineer and the University’s first superintendent of buildings and Grounds.  

The Pratt Ginkgo’s eye-popping canopy generally peaks around Thanksgiving. Then, seemingly all at once, it sheds its golden leaves. By mid-December, the branches will be nearly bare as the tree, and the University, girds for winter.

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