Living Collections

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The Arnold Arboretum’s living collection is celebrated as one of the most comprehensive and best documented of its kind. Its rich holdings include temperate ligneous plants from around the world, and the collection is particularly strong in its representation of the flora of the eastern United States and eastern Asia. Many of the plants originate from collecting expeditions, others derive from horticultural experimentation, and some were existing vegetation when the Arboretum was founded in 1872. Each of these plants—over 15,000 in all—has a story to tell, and they are preserved as both scientific and horticultural specimens to enrich our understanding of biodiversity through the institution’s research, education, and outreach efforts.

The living collection is expanded through the efforts of a propagation team located at the Dana Greenhouses. Accessions are planted and maintained by a crew of dedicated arborists and horticultural technologists, under the guidance of a comprehensive Landscape Management Plan. Plant labeling, mapping, field-checking, and record keeping is facilitated by a curatorial staff, which participates with other members of the horticultural staff in longterm collections planning and repropagation efforts.