Davie Poplar is a large tulip poplar tree, approximately 300–375 years old, located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, named in honor of Revolutionary War general and founder of the University William Richardson Davie.
It was already a large tree as plans were being drawn up for the University in 1792, and legend has it that Davie personally chose to locate the school lands around the tree after having a pleasant summer lunch underneath it. The story is not true – the university's location was chosen by a six-man committee in November 1792 – and the tree was named by Cornelia Phillips Spencer almost a century later to commemorate the legend.
The most enduring legend associated with the tree is that as long as Davie Poplar remains standing, the University will thrive. If it falls, the University will crumble. As such, many steps have been taken to preserve the tree. In 1918, it was struck by lightning, and fear that the tree was dying led the University to make a plant grafting, called Davie Poplar Jr. A second Davie Poplar Jr. was planted near Hinton James Hall. Later, another tree called Davie Poplar III was planted nearby from a seed of the original tree. As part of the university's bicentennial celebration in 1993, 100 seedlings from the tree were given to 100 children representing North Carolina's 100 counties. The seedlings were to be planted in the 100 counties across the state. The Burke County seedling is planted at the entrance of Table Rock Middle School. Where others are actually planted is not known. In 1996,Davie Poplar was badly damaged by Hurricane Fran, after which the trunk was filled with cement and strung with cables to keep it up.
According to more recent legend, if a couple kisses on the stone bench beneath the tree, the couple will marry.
- McCorkle Place - Short article about the history of McCorkle place, in which Davie Poplar is located.
- Davie Poplar Tour Stop - Davie Poplar on the UNC virtual tour.