Full moon, clear sky, trees, ice, lunar eclipse

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
January 21, 2019

Full moon, clear sky, trees, ice, lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse

Full moon, clear sky, trees, ice, lunar eclipse. A magnificent recipe! Yesterday, after an erratic mixture of snow, sleet, and rain, temperatures plummeted here in New England, leaving each and every tree ensheathed in a thick coat of ice. The full moon, followed by a total lunar eclipse set the stage in the woods behind […]

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Looking ahead to a botanically rich new year

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
January 3, 2019

Looking ahead to a botanically rich new year

Tsuga diversifolia

With so much to be thankful for—extraordinary plants, a magnificent landscape, devoted colleagues, and a passionate community of friends of the Arnold Arboretum—I wish all of you a joyous new year, filled with the wonderment of nature. From the depths of winter dormancy, I have chosen one of my favorite memories (among many) of 2018: […]

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Samaras in the sun

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
December 10, 2018

Samaras in the sun

Acer samaras

This past week has been an unbroken streak of sunshine and intense blue skies in Boston, with crisp cold temperatures—perfect for extended walks in the Arnold Arboretum. As I wandered in the Maple Collection, one tree took my breath away, an Amur maple, Acer tataricum ssp. ginnala (701-63*E), whose translucent membranous winged fruits (samaras) collectively […]

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Nothing gold can stay

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
November 10, 2018

Nothing gold can stay

Gold autumn foliage

So dawn goes down to day.Nothing gold can stay. These two wonderful lines from Robert Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (first published in 1923) have been constantly in mind this past week as I walked the Arboretum in the early morning and late afternoon, with the angle of the sun low, amidst the pure […]

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Glowing brilliant red Chinese endemic shrubs at the Arboretum

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
October 22, 2018

Glowing brilliant red Chinese endemic shrubs at the Arboretum

Heptacodium miconioides

Seventy-three years is a long wait. That’s what it took between the Arnold Arboretum’s Ernest Henry Wilson (the great explorer of Asian plant biodiversity in the early twentieth century) first observing seven son flower (Heptacodium miconioides) in Hubei in 1907 and its arrival in the living collections here in Boston. Only in 1980, with the […]

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Carbon tax on beech trees!

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
October 1, 2018

Carbon tax on beech trees!

Beech drops

A serendipitous encounter with a magnificent population of beech-drops on Peters Hill has really made my week. Beech-drops (Epifagus virginiana) is a flowering plant whose ancestors lost the ability to photosynthesize. It obtains all of its organic carbon by invading the fine roots of American beech trees (Fagus grandifolia). Not a touch of green can […]

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A kaleidoscope of fruits at the Arnold Arboretum

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
September 16, 2018

A kaleidoscope of fruits at the Arnold Arboretum

Broussonetia papyrifera

Late afternoons in September, with shadows blanketing the landscape and sun flecks dancing on individual trees and shrubs, are heaven. This is the perfect time to see the nearly limitless variety of colors, shapes, textures, and sizes of fruits at the Arnold Arboretum, without the distraction of fall colors. The fruits stand out against the […]

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How the pear got its spots

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
September 3, 2018

How the pear got its spots

Pyrus bretschneideri

Rarely, if ever, have I wandered through the pear (Pyrus) collection at the Arnold Arboretum and seen another person. So, this is a plea to venture to unfamiliar territory and enjoy looking at some wonderful pear fruits in various shades of green, with different fungal patinas—and take in their lenticel-spotted surfaces (more on lenticels below). […]

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Black locust levitates over the Arnold Arboretum

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
August 7, 2018

Black locust levitates over the Arnold Arboretum

black locust airborne

It was a sight to see. The trunk of a black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) floating over the Arnold Arboretum! This rogue unaccessioned (and declining) tree planted itself in the living collections of the Arboretum some decades ago along the border with Centre Street. Yesterday, its crown was removed and the entire trunk was lifted […]

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Killer magnolias

by William (Ned) Friedman, Director of the Arnold Arboretum
July 20, 2018

Killer magnolias

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Everyone has heard of killer bees. But what about killer magnolias? That kill bees? Such is the case with the wonderful bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla). For the past few years, I have been tracking this phenomenon at the Arnold Arboretum in the specimens growing amidst the hickory collection. So, how do I know that bigleaf magnolias […]

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