The Linnaean Gardens of Uppsala

Linnaeus’s laurel trees

One of Linnaeus’s laurel trees in 1903, when it was already 150 years old!
One of Linnaeus’s laurel trees in 1903,
when it was already 150 years old!

The plants surviving from the time of Linnaeus include four laurel trees. They are probably about 250 years old and are among the oldest pot-grown plants in the world.

The laurel has been a symbol of learning since antiquity. In Uppsala, it is traditional that a laurel wreath is worn by new PhD students during the conferment ceremony. In the past, all the twigs and leaves for these wreaths came from Linnaeus’s laurel trees; however, this tradition ended in 1983 when it was realised that the old trees could no longer supply all the wreath material for the increasing number of PhD students. Today it is only honourary doctorates who have Linnaean leaves in their wreaths. The other wreaths are made from laurel leaves imported from Italy.

In the orangery there is also a laurel tree that grew from a twig from Thore Magnus Fries’s doctoral wreath. He was awarded a PhD in 1857 and was Director of the Botanical Garden between 1877 and 1899.