Overview
Joseph Rock Choni Map 57956

Choni Territory, Upper and Lower T’ieh-Pu country and route to Sung-Pan, J. F. Rock, 1925-1927. From "Ch’ing-Hai upper Yellow River expedition [for the Arnold Arboretum, 1924-1927]."

Expeditions Unveiled

In its nearly 150-year history, The Arnold Arboretum has played an extraordinary role in botanical exploration of the temperate and tropical regions of the world, with an emphasis on the woody floras of North America and Eastern Asia. To accomplish the task of documenting the botanical diversity of these regions, the Arboretum has dispatched its own staff collectors, collaborated with other institutions, and contracted with other individuals to make collections from wild populations of plants. These expeditions to collect germplasm (plants and seeds) and herbarium vouchers have strongly supported the institution's commitment to scientific research, conservation, education, and horticulture.

Expeditions Unveiled is the Arboretum’s first--and ongoing--effort to comprehensively define, quantify, and organize the Arboretum’s botanical exploration efforts. The webpages assembled here serve as a public resource for information chronicling specific exploration efforts and collection events where germplasm or preserved plant specimens were added to the collections of the Arnold Arboretum. For organizational purposes, the following definitions have been used:

  • An expedition is a collection event sponsored by the Arboretum and carried out by Arboretum staff, with planned objective(s) to collect living or preserved plant specimens. In some instances, a collection event may not have been formally sponsored by the Arboretum, but resulted in significant contributions to the collections (living or preserved); it is included as a non-Arnold Arboretum expedition.
  • A campaign is a collection event with more than one discrete start and end date, yet with objective(s) (e.g., location or taxa) that remained consistent over time.
  • A contract is a collection event where the Arnold Arboretum sponsored and determined or agreed to the objective(s), but Arboretum staff did not participate.

The Timeline features 118 collection events that occurred since 1876, in some 60 different nations and territories. Each event listed contains basic descriptive information, while a number also include links to profiles comprising narrative summaries, images, and links to additional resources. Only events that contain sufficient basic details (e.g., dates, locations, participants) appear. Over time, additional historical events will be added as archives are reviewed and new information is gathered. Future Arboretum expeditions will be added shortly after the conclusion of each, with new profiles containing trip images, trip reports, and other information as they become available. For more information about the Expeditions Unveiled project, click on the About tab.

Timeline

Featured Arnold Arboretum Expeditions

Complete Timeline, 1876-present

2019
September 2019 Expedition to Honshu, Japan
2019
2019 NACPEC North America Expedition to Appalachia
2019
May 2019 Expedition to Honshu, Japan
2018
Arkansas-Oklahoma Expedition
2018
Expedition to Honshu, Japan
2018
North America-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) Western Hubei Plant Collecting Expedition
2018
Oregon and Washington Expedition (OWE)
2017
Coastal Southeast Expedition
2017
Arkansas-Missouri Expedition
2017
Wisconsin Expedition
2017
Hunnewell Intern Expedition to Western Massachusetts
2017
North American-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) Sichuan Plant Collecting Expedition
2016
Republic of Georgia Plant Collecting Expedition
2016
Southern Appalachian Expedition
2016
Kentucky Plant Exploration Trip
2016
North American-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) Sichuan Plant Collecting Expedition
2016
Republic of Georgia Plant Collecting Expedition
2016
Hunnewell Intern New Hampshire Expedition
2015
Expedition to Sichuan
2015
North American-China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) Expedition to collect Acer griseum
2015
North Idaho Expedition
2014
Ozarks Plant Exploration
2013
Indiana and Southern Illinois Plant Exploration
2012
Virginia Plant Exploration
2011
Twin Tier Trip to New York and Pennsylvania
2010
North American China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC) Expedition to Shaanxi, Hebei, and Beijing
2008
Adirondack Expedition
2003
Expedition to Sichuan
2002
Expedition to Guizhou
2000
Expedition to Tibet
1997
Expedition to Yunnan and Sichuan
1997
North American China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC), Expedition to Changbai Shan
1994
North American China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC), Expedition to Hubei
1989
Southeastern States Expedition (Center for Plant Conservation Campaign)
1989
Eastern China Expedition
1988
Southeastern States Expedition (Center for Plant Conservation Campaign)
1987
Southwestern States Expedition
1987
Southeastern States Expedition (Center for Plant Conservation Campaign)
1986
Third Sino-American Botanical Expedition
1986
Southeastern States Expedition (Center for Plant Conservation Campaign)
1986
Expedition to Bhutan
1985
Southeastern States Expedition (Center for Plant Conservation Campaign)
1984
New Jersey Pine Barrens Collections
1984
Second Sino-American Botanical Expedition to Yunnan, China
1982
North Africa Expedition
1981
Western States Botanical Expedition
1980
First Sino-American Botanical Expedition
1980
USSR Expedition
1979
Missouri and Illinois Collections
1979
Western States Expedition
1979
Expedition to North Carolina
1978
Pacific Northwest Expedition
1977
Expedition to South Korea and Japan
1968-1972
Campaign in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea
1968
Expedition to Venezuela
1960-1980
Exploration for the Flora of the Lesser Antilles
1956-1957
Fifth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea
1953
Fourth Archbold Expedition to New Guinea
1948
Archbold Cape York Expedition
1947
Collections for the Plants of Fiji
1947
Metasequoia Collection
1944-1956
Campaign in Panama and Isla San Jose
1943-1944
Alaska Military Highway Expedition
1941
Collections in Mexico
1940-1941
Expedition to Central America
1940-1941
Contract Collections for the Plants of Mexico
1939
Expedition to Northwest Canada
1938-1939
Third Archbold Expedition to New Guinea
1938
Collections for the Flora of Panama
1938-1939
Collections for the Plants of Yunnan Province, China
1938
Expedition to Mexico
1937-1938
Terry-Holden Expedition
1936-1937
Second Archbold Expedition to New Guinea
1934-1935
Collections for the Plants of Guatemala
1934
Contract Collections in Liberia
1934
Expedition to the Balkan Peninsula
1934-1935
Collections for the Plants of Mexico
1933-1934
First Archbold Expedition to New Guinea
1932-1933
Collections for the Flora of the Solomon Islands
1932-1933
Expedition to Northeast British Columbia and Alberta
1932-1934
Collections for the Flora of Honduras
1928-1932
Collections for the Flora of the Solomon Islands, Madagascar, and Vanuatu
1928-1936
Campaign in the Western United States
1927-1932
Campaign in Cuba
1926-1927
Expedition of the Harvard Institute of Tropical Biology and Medicine
1926
Contract Collections in the Balkan Peninsula
1924-1927
Expedition to Northwestern China and Northeastern Tibet
1922
Expedition to New England
1921
Expedition to Glacier National Park
1917-1919
Expedition to Eastern Asia
1913-1920
Contracted Collections for the Flora of the Southeastern United States
1914-1915
Expedition to Japan
1910-1911
Expedition to China
1909-1912
Expedition to Northern China
1907-1909
First Expedition to China
1905-1906
Expedition to Central and South America
1905
Expedition to East Asia
1904
Expedition to the Western United States and Canada
1903
Journey Round The World
1901-1947
Exploration of the United States
1900
Contracted Collections of Cedrus libani
1899
Journey of May
1898
Survey of Pikes Peak, Plum Creek, and South Platte Forest Reserves
1898
Journey to Alabama
1898
Journey to Florida
1897
Expedition to Alaska and Canadian Rockies for the Silva of North America
1896
Collections from the U.S. Forestry Commission
1892
Journey to Japan
1887
Journey to Texas and Mexico
1886-1887
Journey to Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana
1886
Expedition to the Carolinas
1885
Expedition to North Carolina
1885
Journey to the West Indies
1883-1884
Collections from the Northern Transcontinental Survey
1880
Collections from the Forests of North America Survey
1879
Expedition to North Carolina for Shortia galacifolia (Oconee bells)
1877
Hayden’s Survey of the U.S. Territories
1876-1877
Contracted Collections in Japan
About

Goals, Process, and Outcomes

Expeditions Unveiled is an ongoing effort to define, inventory, and summarize the Arboretum’s history of plant exploration. The project initially developed in 2014 from a simple question we were unable to answer: How many expeditions have been mounted by and with the Arnold Arboretum?

Goals
1 Define ‘expedition’
2 Quantify the number of expeditions mounted by or with the Arboretum from 1872-present
3 Qualify expeditions consistently and systematically
4 Analyze expeditions for themes and trends
5 Archive findings internally, and provide summaries for the public on the Arboretum website

With nearly a century-and-a-half of domestic and international travel (not all of which was for the purposes of collecting), we soon discovered that in order to answer our question, we first needed to define what an expedition was, and what it was not (Goal 1). Simply put, collecting expeditions were defined as events that added germplasm or preserved plant specimens to the collections of the Arnold Arboretum, in contrast to other Arboretum travel and research projects. We then needed further definition to distinguish formal and planned expeditions from the informal (yet important) collecting activities enjoyed by Arboretum staff and associates over the years. We applied the following definitions during our review:

  • An expedition is a collection event sponsored by the Arboretum and carried out by Arboretum staff, with planned objective(s) to collect living or preserved plant specimens. In some instances, a collection event may not have been formally sponsored by the Arboretum, but resulted in significant contributions to the collections (living or preserved); it is included as a non-Arnold Arboretum expedition.
  • A campaign is a collection event with more than one discrete start and end date, yet with objective(s) (e.g., location or taxa) that remained consistent over time.
  • A contract is a collection event where the Arnold Arboretum sponsored and determined or agreed to the objective(s), but Arboretum staff did not participate.

The next step was to review our curatorial and library archives (including annual Director’s Reports), as well as the plant records database, to catalog in a spreadsheet all events that might be potentially defined as expeditions, even if it was a remote chance. The Director’s Reports were summaries of each fiscal year’s activities and frequently contained basic data pertaining to collecting and other travel events (e.g., dates, participants, or locations); they were particularly useful for getting information on historical activities. After generating this comprehensive list, we applied our definitions to determine which of them could be defined as expeditions, and if so, what type. The analysis revealed 389 activities that occurred between 1872 and 2014, 202 which we could associate as some sort of collection event. The next step was to separate the informal collecting activities from the formal expeditions, and then categorize the expeditions using our definitions (Goal 2). To do this, we surveyed our own and other institutional records, published reports and articles, and other resources to gather documentation on essential event details such as travel dates, participants, and of course stated objectives and other evidence of planning. This yielded a count of 152 expeditions (13 campaigns, 33 contracts, 96 Arboretum expeditions, and 10 non-Arnold Arboretum expeditions) and 50 events that we determined were not actual expeditions or where there was too little information to make any further determination. During this assessment, the Arboretum participated in three new expeditions in 2015, bringing the total count to 155.

Chart

In addition to creating a comprehensive inventory of collection events, we have begun to capture as many Expedition Summary Details about each one as possible, such as its duration, geographical location(s), and individual participants (Goal 3). To standardize this, we created a template to consistently summarize and make note of essential data from past expeditions. Importantly, this template serves as a means to catalogue information for future expeditions as well.

Expedition Summary Details

Category Description
Location Country and locality of collection and non-collection sites
Dates and Duration Start date and end date; number of days collecting if known
Participant(s) Individuals directly involved in the expedition, including Arboretum and non-Arnold Arboretum staff
Objective(s) Collection-based objectives (e.g., target taxa or location) and non-collection based goals (e.g., cultural or educational)
Collections Number and type (i.e., germplasm or herbarium vouchers) of collections mad
Field Notes Reference to written documents and images created/captured during an expedition
Trip Reports Reference to written summaries, articles, and other trip analysis
Endorsement Documentation of formal institutional support (e.g., funding)

By organizing expedition information in this manner, in the future we will be able to analyze individual as well as collective expeditions for themes and trends over time(Goal 4). This is particularly powerful as expedition data are integrated into the plant records database.

Lastly, in addition to creating a first-ever internal archive of Arboretum Expeditions, we wanted to provide an online public resource (Goal 5). With respect to the latter, this website contains an up-to-date timeline of some 100 Expeditions where we had sufficient documentation to create basic tabular summaries. For a number of expeditions on the timeline, we have also created separate profile pages that contain short narratives, selected images, and links to additional resources. In time, with the acquisition and analysis of new archival information, additional historical expeditions will be added to the timeline; they will be joined by all new expeditions conducted by and for the Arboretum. And, as Arboretum staff complete additional in-depth expedition reviews, new expedition profiles will be added.

A comprehensive account of the Arboretum's long-term and on-going commitment to plant exploration, Expeditions Unveiled weaves a story of collectors in the field, what they brought back, and the impact they had on botany and horticulture.

Contributors

Michael Dosmann, Curator of Living Collections (project advisor)
Jordan Wood, 2014-15 Curatorial Fellow (project manager)
Lisa Pearson, Head of Library and Archives
Larissa Glasser, Library Assistant
Matt Caulkins, Web Applications Program Manager
Donna Tremonte, former Applications Programmer
Kiley Dalrymple*, 2015 Library and Curation Intern
Lucas Galante*, 2015 Library and Curation Intern
Lydia Golitz*, 2016 Library and Curation Intern
Katharine Wilson, 2015 Isabella Welles Hunnewell Intern

*Bennington College Fieldwork Student