In 1920, Northern Arizona Normal School President Lynn McMullen confronted a nearly treeless and grassless landscape by initiating campus beautification projects. Student volunteers hauled in tons of topsoil and planted a variety of native trees including ponderosa pine, Colorado blue spruce, and Douglas fir. Arriving in 1926, President Grady Gammage added additional trees and shrubs. Subsequent Forestry professors, grounds keepers, and student organizations have supplemented the North Quad's tree diversity, which today includes thirty three species.
Most notable is a large American elm, donated as a sprig in April 1931 by the Daughters of the American Revolution. It is a direct descendant of the tree under which George Washington assumed command of the Continental Army in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on July 3, 1775 -- it is known today as the Washington Elm. Nearby, the class of 1934 planted a pink French boursault rose, clipped in 1895 from a parent at the Arizona governor's mansion by Margaret McCormick, wife of second territorial governor Richard McCormick.
Sponsored by the Arizona Community Tree Council, the NAU Arboretum on North Quad hosts two labeled tree walks showcasing the breadth of represented species.