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Illustration of black locust by Charles Faxon

Bussey Brook Meadow plants

Aster pilosus in Bussey Brook Meadow Peter Del Tredici
Aster pilosus in Bussey Brook Meadow


Fun Facts

  • Bussey Brook Meadow serves Harvard University and science as a permanent site for monitoring spontaneous urban ecology.

  • In addition to aiding recent studies conducted by researchers from a number of universities including the Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Arboretum has also become a participatory member in ULTRA (Urban Long-Term Research Area) exploratory projects funded by the National Science Foundation and USDA Forest Service.


The 24 acres that make up Bussey Brook Meadow–a part of the Arnold Arboretum located between the Forest Hills MBTA Station and the Arboretum’s South Street Gate–are preserved with minimal human interference as a site for research into the complex interactions that characterize urban environments. Protected through the Arboretum’s indenture and not subject to loss from future development, this “urban wild” supports studies in a range of disciplines, generating abundant data about the ecological functioning of a modern city.

A walk down the Blackwell Footpath in the Arboretum’s Bussey Brook Meadow presents opportunities to observe a spontaneous wildflower meadow, a flourishing wetland, and a diversity of both native and introduced plants and animals. In 1996, the Arboretum Park Conservancy partnered with the Arboretum to preserve this landscape, assembled from neglected parcels of land that formerly belonged to the MBTA, the City of Boston, and Harvard University. Under the current management regimen, the meadow serves as a site where Arboretum scientists and visiting scholars can document long-term changes in plant succession and measure ecosystem functions including vegetation structure, wildlife abundance, phenology, and biogeochemical cycling.



Plants in this Collection

Plant ID Accession Date Received As Origin Source

Featured Walk

This quarter-mile tour through the Explorers Garden features stories from the Arboretum’s century and a half of collecting plants around the world. If you’re at the Arboretum, click here to take a version of this tour with Expeditions, our mobile web app.

Dove tree (Davidia involucrata)

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