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1927 Map of the Arboretum

Arnoldia Guidelines for Contributors

Cover of Arnoldia issue 67-4

About Arnoldia

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 “tree studies” and encourage interdisciplinary explorations that place botanical and horticultural subjects within broader cultural or historical contexts. The stories cover taxonomic research, plant exploration, landscape history, urban ecology, and more. All aim to 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

Contributions to Arnoldia are often solicited, however unsolicited submissions are most welcome. The editorial process generally begins with a proposal. 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 several rounds of revision. We invest particular care and focus on each piece, so expect these editorial steps to be detailed and thorough. Authors may also submit a complete manuscript without a prior proposal but should still anticipate several rounds of revision.

Editorial Departments

  • Notes from the FieldThis section includes short, first-person essays (500–1,000 words) that provide behind-the-scenes glimpses into the world of horticulture and botany. Authors should develop a scene-based narrative, while providing context to establish the broader importance or novelty. Each essay is accompanied by a new artwork, often based on reference images provided by the author.
  • Plant Portrait: Plant portraits (500 words) describe a first-person encounter with an accessioned plant growing at the Arnold Arboretum. Authors should approach the portraits as micro-essays, using their own experience or expertise to showcase a novel or little-known idea associated with the species. 
  • Features: Features run between 2,500 and 5,000 words. 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, collecting expeditions, and so forth. Features are often accompanied by author-supplied photographs or archival images.
  • Visual Essays: Visual essays showcase images associated with a botanical or horticultural idea or theme. The images (for instance, botanical illustrations) are generally accompanied by 600 to 1,200 words of explanatory text. In some cases, the text may be written by another scholar or critic who is interpreting the images.
  • PoetryPoems in Arnoldia can explore a wide range of experiences and ideas pertaining to trees, the environment, and more. We welcome up to two poems per submission.
  • Propagations: This section includes reviews, opinion, and other humanities-based essays. The essays range from 900 to 2,500 words and should advance new arguments about how readers should (or could) think about 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. Essays in this section may be accompanied by a new artwork.


Photographs: Feature articles are often illustrated with author-supplied photographs, 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 views such information as fair use. Nevertheless, citations should be provided for direct quotations and unique data. In-text citations may be presented narratively or as endnotes.

Arnoldia supports references in APA and Chicago styles, reflecting author preference and disciplinary norms. Examples of reference formatting follow below.

  • Narrative Citations: Preferred when few citations are necessary and can be combined with an alphabetized references list. This is the standard approach for Notes from the Field and Plant Portraits (NB: years are never listed parenthetically).
    • In-text: Peter Del Tredici visited the original weeping hemlock in Hortonville, New York, and observed…
    • References list: Del Tredici, P. 2020. Closing the book on Sargent’s weeping hemlock. Arnoldia, 61(2): 8–33. 
  • Numerical Endnotes: Preferred in situations where numerous citations are necessary and the reader would be unable to easily associate the citation with the references list. Endnotes may include brief commentary.
    • In-text: The original weeping hemlock in Hortonville, New York, had died by 2018.2
    • EndnotesDel Tredici, P. 2020. Closing the book on Sargent’s weeping hemlock. Arnoldia, 61(2): 8–33.