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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 24-acre parcel 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.



Featured Plants

Illustration of paperbark maple by Charles Faxon
12488*B Map it ↗

Paperbark Maple

Scientific Name
Acer griseum

A remarkable and rare species native to central China, this maple is most known for its striking copper-colored papery bark. Plant collector Ernest Henry Wilson introduced it to North America in 1907. The Arboretum is home to some of the oldest paperbark maples outside of China.

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Paperbark maple
Illustration of Ginkgo by Charles Faxon
1113-89*C Map it ↗


Scientific Name
Ginkgo biloba

In the early 20th century, American and European botanists believed that the ginkgo, while common in cultivation, was extinct in the wild. This ginkgo was collected from one of the few presumed wild populations of this species in China.

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Ginkgo biloba

Plants in this Collection

Plant ID Accession Date Recieved 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. Click here to take this tour on Expeditions, the Arboretum’s mobile app.

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