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ECU Notes: Tree's roots in ancient Greece

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East Carolina University might be the youngest medical school in the state, but an addition to its campus has a lineage that goes back thousands of years to the father of medicine himself.

A descendant of the “Tree of Hippocrates” is now growing in front of the Brody Medical Sciences Building. The tree was propagated locally from seed from a tree at the National Library of Medicine. That tree grew from a cutting off of a tree on the Greek island of Cos. That tree’s parent is where Hippocrates is said to have taught medicine to his students.


The tree, Plantanus orientalis, or Oriental plane tree, is related to the American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis. Grounds staff members at the National Institutes of Health (which includes the NLM) made numerous attempts to grow cuttings and seeds from the tree it received from Cos, but none survived. That’s where Dr. Walter Pories, an ECU surgeon and researcher of most anything he takes an interest in, took over.

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Bless your heart
Bless your heart