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November 2012


In this issue
  • Arboretum Weathers East Coast Hurricane
  • Changes Underway in the Visitor Center
  • Check In With Arboretum Plant Explorers in Indonesia
  • GIS at the Arboretum: Finding Your Way
  • Take a Class: Ants, Mosses, and More
  • Regular Free Tour Season Concludes This Month
  • Plant Spotlight on American Beech

  • Changes Underway in the Visitor Center
    Hunnewell Building

    The Visitor Center is making strides this fall to create a more enriching experience for the public and provide greater focus on our landscape and collections. In keeping with this priority, the Arboretum will close the retail portion of the Visitor Center to create new exhibition space and facilitate enhanced interactions with visitors. Upgrades to displays and technology will provide more dynamic ways to learn about seasonal highlights, delve into the breadth and use of the living collection, and explore the treasures of our library and archives. Soon, the Visitor Center will also be increasing its open hours to provide more assistance during peak visitation periods. Stop by in coming months and discover new resources to enhance your appreciation of plants, nature, and biodiversity.

    Check In With Arboretum Plant Explorers in Indonesia
    Cam Webb

    When Arboretum Senior Scientist Cam Webb last reported from Indonesia in his digital diary, Webb Blog, he and his colleagues were exploring the diverse forest habitats of Seram, one of the storied Spice Islands. Following some unforeseen difficulties over the summer, Cam returned to Seram in October to continue his three-year study of the biodiversity, evolution, and ecology of Indonesia's disappearing forests. Webb Blog follows Cam and his international team as they discover fascinating organisms, witness the forces of nature, and live day to day in this hotspot of biodiversity. Learn what plant exploration means in the twenty-first century, and the role this work plays in protecting diminishing forests worldwide.

    GIS at the Arboretum: Finding Your Way
    Arboretum GIS

    Celebrate Geography Awareness Week (November 11-17) and GIS Day (November 14) by learning about geospatial technology. Applications Programmer Donna Tremonte offers two opportunities (November 14 from 12:15-1:30pm and November 17 from 1:00-2:30pm) to help orient you to the capabilities of the Arboretum's geographic information systems. Donna will explain the basics of GIS, demonstrate how it is used by our staff to keep track of plant collections, and lead a tour of the grounds using web-enabled mobile devices to explore the landscape via our new mobile application. Bring your Apple- or Android-based mobile device and see how easy it is to locate your favorite trees in the Arboretum!

    Take a Class: Ants, Mosses, and More

    Connect with nature this autumn and expand your plant skills by attending a class or lecture. On November 3, Mary Holland presents a month-by-month photographic travelogue of New England, featuring stunning images and fun facts about our native plants and wildlife. Harvard Forest ecologists reveal the diversity of ant populations in New England on November 7, offering their unique insight into the social structure of ant colonies. Curatorial Fellow Stephanie Stuber explores the natural history and ecology of mosses in the Arboretum landscape on November 15 and November 17. And learn about the various acoustic signals that birds, frogs, mammals, and insects employ for mating and territory defense with Harvard Biology Professor Brian Farrell on November 29.

    Regular Free Tour Season Concludes This Month
    Oaks in autumn

    From colorful leaves to showy fruit and many varieties of ornamental bark, an autumn walk in the Arboretum will reward your visit with any number of sensational discoveries! Our final Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday tours of the season are offered this month, with knowledgeable docents illuminating the Arboretum and its Olmsted-designed landscape. Explore the beauty and wonder of Arboretum plants, learn a bit about our history, and enjoy topics of seasonal interest through November 28.

    Plant Spotlight on American Beech
    American beech

    Beeches are among the most majestic trees at the Arnold Arboretum, and the genus represents one of six national collections grown at the Arboretum for conservation purposes. American beech (Fagus grandifolia) trees can often be quite magnificent in the landscape, with smooth, silver-grey trunks and wide-spreading crowns. Their simple leaves open silvery green in spring, turn a glossy dark green in summer, and reveal golden bronze tones in autumn. Prickly fruits ripen in late September and hold one to three triangular edible seeds (beechnuts) that are quickly consumed by wildlife. Beeches are featured this month in our Visitor Center; explore the collection with our activity guide.

    All images from the Arnold Arboretum Archives except ant image courtesy of Aaron Ellison.

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    Arboretum Weathers East Coast Hurricane
    Storm Damage

    Hurricane Sandy claimed lives and wrought extensive damage to many parts of the East Coast, and our thoughts remain with those who have been affected and endangered by the storm and its aftermath. Fortunately here at the Arnold Arboretum the hurricane caused relatively little damage. Horticulturists and arborists surveying the living collection this week report only eight accessioned trees as complete losses, with some others sustaining partial damage or downed limbs. Director of Operations Steve Schneider said the collection held up quite well, noting that the lost and injured plants are not of particular historical or popular interest. Much credit for the resilience of the collection must be given to the Arboretum's horticulture staff for their ongoing maintenance and structural pruning work, efforts that improve plant health and minimize weather-related damage. As clean-up continues over the next few days, visitors should observe caution in the Arboretum landscape, as some broken limbs or branches may have yet to be removed from the canopy.

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