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1927 Map of the Arboretum

2015: North Idaho Expedition

The North Idaho Expedition kicked off The Arboretum’s Campaign for the Living Collections, a 10-year initiative to boost plant exploration and collections development. Kyle Port, 2015.
The North Idaho Expedition kicked off The Arboretum’s Campaign for the Living Collections, a 10-year initiative to boost plant exploration and collections development.

Plants collected on this Expedition

Plant ID Accession Date Received As Origin Source

Expedition Stats


Event Type
Collection Type
Germplasm, Herbarium Specimens
Arnold Arboretum Participants
Kyle Port
Other Participants
Larry Hufford1, David Port2, Steve Ullrich1, Paul Warnick3
Other Institution(s)
1Washington State University, 2Harvest House, and 3University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanic Garden

In 2015, Arnold Arboretum Manager of Plant Records Kyle Port was joined by colleagues from Washington State University (WSU), University of Idaho, and others, to collect plants in north Idaho. Although hampered by wildfires, this productive trip marked the inaugural expedition of the Campaign for the Living Collections and netted seven items from that desiderata list.

Over the years, few Arboretum plant explorers had botanized in Idaho. As a result, few taxa Taxon: In biology, a taxon (plural taxa) is a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit. from the Gem State were represented in the living collections. The botanically rich counties of north Idaho were targeted to increase the institution’s holdings of western flora as well as to introduce new germplasm germplasm: from inland populations.


Between August 24 and September 4, Kyle Port (trip leader) collected seed, live plants, and herbarium specimens. Larry Hufford from Washington State University (WSU) joined him, along with Paul Warnick from the University of Idaho Arboretum & Botanical Garden. Dave Port of Harvest House (retired) and Steve Ullrich of WSU (retired) assisted.

Collecting in the Gem State

The team traveled

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

The summer of 2015 saw wildfires race across the state. Approximately 740,000 acres (299467 hectares) burned. Of that, about 80 percent was located on United States government lands. The wildfire closed roads and prevented access to three collection areas, Scotchman Peaks Wilderness Area, Elk City, and Freezeout Mountain.

Through the assistance of our partners at the United States Forest Service we were offered alternative sites within the Kaniksu and St. Joe National Forests. Planned permitted visits to Priest Lake State Park, Farragut State Park, Pittsburgh Saddle (Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest), and Paradise Ridge were unaffected by wildfire road closures.


In most cases, Arboretum collectors cannot gather plants wherever their fancy takes them. Before leaving on an trip, the expedition leader will have applied for and received permits for any parks, natural areas, and other entities in which they are planning to collect.

For this trip, Kyle Port obtained a Forest Products Free Use Permit from the United States Forest Service to collect north Idaho native flora on Federal Lands, including nine priority target taxa. He also obtained permission from the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee for the team to collect Lewis’ mock-orange (Philadelphus lewisii) and redstem ceanothus (Ceanothus sanguineus) and propagate it at the Arboretum.

Back in Boston

A total of sixty collections from forty-two species were catalogued. Of these, thirty species are new to the Arboretum’s living collections and ninety-five percent are from localities previously unexplored by staff.

Considerable thanks are extended to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee who has allowed The Arboretum to collect and grow seed collected on tribal lands.