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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Arnoldia Guidelines for Contributors

Cover of Arnoldia issue 67-4

Publication Overview

As the quarterly magazine of the Arnold Arboretum, Arnoldia is the definitive forum for conversations about trees and other temperate woody plants, as well as the landscapes they occupy. We call our approach “plant studies,” as opposed to “plant science,” and encourage interdisciplinary explorations that place botanical and horticultural subjects within broader cultural or historical contexts. While the breadth of topics is wide—including biogeography and plant taxonomy, curatorial practice for botanical gardens and arboreta, plant exploration, landscape design and history, urban environmental science, and more—articles should transcend research synopsis and address the persuasive issue of why: why the cultivation and conservation of trees and other plants matters, why researching these organisms matters, and why their history matters.

Our readers include laypersons with a strong interest in horticulture and botany, as well as professionals and academics in related fields. Contributors should use a narrative and explanatory style—rich in specificity while remaining accessible. We welcome writing that has timely—but also timeless—implications for how readers see and think about trees and other plants and, by extension, how readers engage with a rapidly changing world. Articles must present original, useful, and evidence-based insights that emerge from authorial expertise.

Editorial Process

Our editorial process begins with a proposal, even in the case of solicited work. Send an email explaining the central message of the article you intend to write and why Arnoldia readers need to know about the topic. The proposal should outline the structure of the proposed article, so that our editorial team can understand its narrative direction and argumentative logic. Also describe why you are the essential person to communicate the information.

Once a proposal is accepted, Arnoldia editors will help authors develop ideas, often working through multiple rounds of revision. The first of these editorial stages will primarily focus on structure and content, asking writers for clarity and additional information, while the final stage will focus on line edits. We invest particular care and focus on each piece, so expect these editorial steps to be detailed and thorough.

Editorial Departments

Arnoldia articles typically fit into one of the following categories:

  • Features: Features run between 2,500 and 4,000 words, although shorter submissions are also welcome. While many authors come from research backgrounds, all should use a two-steps-back perspective to raise novel questions that couldn’t be addressed in a traditional academic publication. First-person narratives that reveal the process of conducting research are welcome and should focus on specific takeaways from the experiences: revelations about plant hardiness, the evolution of plant adaptations, cultural history, and so forth.
  • Commentary: Commentaries range from 900 to 4,000 words and should advance new arguments about how readers should (or could) approach plant-related issues. Book reviews are welcome but should use a new publication to illustrate an idea, rather than providing a synoptic “book report.” The same guidelines apply to essays on film and other media.
  • Visual Essays: Visual essays may include up to four two-page image spreads, accompanied by 650 to 1,300 words of introductory text. In some cases, the text could be written by another scholar or critic who is interpreting the images.
  • Plant Profiles: Back-page plant profiles (650–700 words) should use a particular taxon growing at the Arnold Arboretum to exhibit an idea (e.g. something about horticultural history or ethnobotanical use). Profiles should be viewed as micro-essays, rather than the definitive horticultural guide for cultivation of the species. As such, plant dimensions and characteristics should only be included when necessary to evocatively describe the species.


Photographs: Our articles are lushly illustrated, prioritizing images that communicate a beautiful and cohesive visual story. Digital images should be a minimum of 1,700 x 2,300 pixels. JPEG, TIFF, or RAW files can be shared via email, Dropbox, or OneDrive.

Style: Articles should follow the Chicago Manual of Style for stylistic preferences. Additional house guidelines can be supplied, on request, for topical matters not fully addressed in Chicago (e.g. scientific nomenclature, accession numbers).

Subheads: Articles may include subheads for distinct sections, but symbolic markers or line spaces are also acceptable.

Citations: Excessive citations should be avoided. While some journals might require a citation for statements like “Catalpa bungei is native to China”, Arnoldia treats such information as fair use, assuming authors are presenting a new and authoritative synthesis of the material. Nevertheless, citations should be provided for direct quotations and use of unique data. In these cases, a combination of options exists:

  • Narrative Citations: Preferred when few citations are necessary and can be combined with alphabetized references list (e.g. “Surprisingly, work by Daniel Maxbauer and colleagues found that…”)
  • In-Text Citations: Written parenthetically (e.g. “…from 5 to 90 percent of the total volume (Morris et al., 2016).”), plus an alphabetized end list of references. These should only be used when a narrative citation would cause an excessive diversion or when the material would be difficult to associate with an individual title on the references list.
  • Numerical Endnotes: Preferred in situations where numerous direct quotations are provided and the reader would be unable to easily associate the quotation with an individual source. Endnotes may include brief commentary.

References List: References should be presented in APA Style, except that years are not presented parenthetically.

Barlow, C. 2001. Anachronistic fruits and the ghosts who haunt them. Arnoldia, 61(2): 14–21.


Jonathan Damery
Editor | Arnoldia