The Story of Dollar’s Corsican Pine

Dollar’s Corsican Pine, Pinus Nigra, var. maritima, was a part of the school campus for a long time and is remembered by many as a key feature of the grounds.

During the recent Christmas break, the tree sadly suffered a fatal breakage and developed cracks which meant it was too dangerous to be left standing. The decision to cut down the tree was taken earlier this month.

Dollar’s Corsican Pine held a lot of history, and the tree has featured throughout many celebrations and events that have taken place over the past two hundred years. Our archivist has sourced materials which have allowed us to piece together what we know of the tree, and how it became such an important part of the school’s campus and history.

Origin of Tree

It’s not clear exactly where the tree came from. There is a possibility it has been on the Dollar campus from the beginning of the Botanical garden, from soon after 1818. We have a plan of the gardens from the mid-19th century, however, is not clear whether the tree was there at the time this plan was made.



Mid-19th century plan of Botanical Gardens

It was also common for Former Pupils who had moved abroad to send seeds and plants back to the school which were later planted on the grounds. This is another potential theory as to how the Corsican Pine came to Dollar’s campus.

Corsican Pine throughout the Years

Much of Dollar’s history, from co-curricular activities through to photography shots of the campus has involved the Corsican Pine. Here are some of our archived images below.

Cadet Corps drill with Corsican Pine in the background (1912)


Aerial View of Dollar’s Campus (Early 1930s)


Prep School children enjoying their Sports Day under Corsican Pine (Early 1950s)


Photo of Corsican Pine taken by Former Pupil John Galbraith (1967)

In 1995, Cameron Howden Smith, a pupil and boarder in Tait House sadly passed away. After his death, a memorial bench was placed under the Corsican Pine. The memorial bench is still there today, and although the tree has now been cut, the trunk is level to the height of the bench.

Cameron Smith’s Memorial bench under Tree (2004)

In 2018, the tree lost some branches due to a snowstorm. Despite this, its health was still considered to be ‘fair/good’ in our most recent Tree Report, which was conducted in July 2019. The tree remained a part of the campus for another two years.

Corsican Pine after branches fell in snowstorm, taken from Dewar Building (2018)

However, sadly the decision to cut down the tree was taken after the Christmas break (2020) due to a severe breakage.

Tree during felling (2021)

January 2021

Earlier this month, our grounds staff and contractors began to take down the tree.

Tree cut down (2021)

On 15 January, the pupils currently attending our learning hub counted the rings of the tree. In total, the pupils counted 174 rings. We are hoping to obtain a clean, smooth section of the tree which we will re-count for further accuracy.

The section of tree our hub pupils counted. How many rings can you count?

Into the Future

Although the tree is a big loss to our campus, there is hope for the future. Over the years, Dollar’s grounds staff have planted hundreds of trees around the campus and at New Field. Over the past few weeks in particular, another forty trees have been planted, including a Ginkgo biloba, a tree which is native to China, Japan and Korea.

Our trees are surveyed twice a year. You can read our most recent Tree Report here.

Photo of tree before damage (2020)