Campus Flora

The UT campus has quite a range of plant life. There are many areas designated for native species, to promote pollinator activity, or showcase plants suited for xeriscaping in Austin's challenging climate. There are also some historical examples of plants that have seen the changes of this university and surrounding city.

Bio Building Gardens

This area surrounds the Biological Laboratories (BIO) building. Not only are there some terrific examples of native trees and plants, but the beloved turtle pond is also here. Several species of aquatic plants reside in the pond, sharing their home with turtles, fish, and the occasional visiting waterfowl. 

The earliest plantings occurred sometime in the 1970s. Plantings on the south side of BIO were amended by Botany grad students.

Campus Trees

For those interested in exploring UT's trees, many specimens are tagged and info about each tagged tree can be found on the UT's treekeeper webpage. 

Historic Battle Oaks

The three oaks at the corner of 24th Street and Whitis have been standing for a little over 300 hundred years, and are some of the oldest trees on campus. They are called the Battle Oaks after Dr. James Battle, president of UT from 1914-1916, and a professor of classical languages here after his term. The current Biological Laboratories (BIO) building had been planned to be built on the site where the oaks are, but thanks to Dr. Battle's efforts against their destruction in 1923, the BIO building was moved farther east to save these trees.

The Austin area is a problem region for live oaks, as two morphologically similar species have ranges that overlap here and hybridize (as well as frequently being misdetermined). The southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) has its main range to the east of the Hill Country and the main range of the Escarpment live oak (Quercus fusiformis) is from Austin westward. The two differ mainly in the size and shape of the acorns, but hybridization makes identification of local trees very difficult. Varying sources list different species names for these three oaks.


A good example of drought and heat tolerant plants for Central Texas' climate can be found at the south-east corner of the Main Tower. This raised bed was converted in 2011 from more water-hungry plants like traditional roses and jasmine to native plants like red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora (Torr.) J.M. Coult.) prickly pear (member of the large cactus genus Opuntia), and Texas Sotol (Dasylirion texasnum Schee).

This xeriscape bed is also featured in a campus sustainability self-guided tour created by the Sustainability Office. Visit their website for more information.

Pollinator Gardens

The Orchard and Pollinator Gardens on campus established by Landscape Services are located at at the northwest corner of San Jacinto Blvd and 24th Street. The orchard was started in 2013 and showcases fruit trees that are well-suited for Central Texas. The pollinator garden attracts native bees, monarchs, and other pollinators, and has a bench crafted from a campus oak tree. Visit the facebook page for the garden to learn more about it.