Frank Kaputa, co-chair of Connecticut Botanical Society's Notable Tree Project, at UB this week.

“The tree made it!”

Dr. Eugene Zampieron, founder of a rather unique garden that is used to teach students at the University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine, was quick to email colleagues on Thursday. The Connecticut Botanical Society had just included one of the garden’s trees, a Sabal palm, in its Notable Trees Database. He was thrilled.

“This is a big honor,” said Zampieron, known by all as Dr. Z and a cofounder of the College of Naturopathic Medicine.

Some perspective on Zampieron’s ebullience: Connecticut’s Notable Tree Database is to plants as the Country Music Hall of Fame is to Taylor Swift or the Pro Football Hall of Fame is to Joe Montana. Only the truly special and uber-talented are admitted.

“We have the state’s largest trees, its historic trees, and oddball trees—that’s where Dr. Z comes in,” said Frank Kaputa, co-chair of the Botanical Society’s Notable Trees Project.

After touring the medicinal garden with Dr. Z this week, Kaputa added not one, but three trees, to the Notable Trees Database: a Medlar, a Ziziphus Jujuba, and Zampieron’s beloved Sabal palm. They are among more than 1,000 leafy species that Zampieron originally planted at UB in order to increase students’ understanding of biomedical science and plant-based care, areas of study that are integral to naturopathic medicine.

The Ziziphus Jujuba tree, for instance, can treat cuts and ameliorate bouts of asthma. Bark, flowers, and fruit from the Medlar tree are used to treat fevers and other ailments. Sabal palms can treat prostate ailments.

That all three of the trees have flourished at the University is “remarkable,” said Kaputa. In fact, while the Botanical Society has listed more than 4,100 unusual trees in its database since 1985, this is the first time that is has listed a single palm tree of any genus.

“It’s very unusual to see it growing outside of its normal range because basically it’s too cold in Connecticut. Dr. Z has done a great job planting it in a microclimate,” Kaputa said. “And we don’t know of another Ziziphus. It’s an Asian tree so it’s not as common.”

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu