A records label hangs from every accessioned plant in the Arboretum, recording scientific name, accession number, provenance, and other documentation. The Curation department creates some 2,000 new labels anually—for new plantings, as scientific names change, and to replace missing labels (often discovered during the annual inventory, which in 2022 included Hemlock Hill). We produce labels on a CIM Maxima 841 label embosser, which rapidly and sonorously stamps letters and numbers into the two-by-three-inch aluminum cards, completing each in roughly 45 seconds. Out in the field, we typically hang the prepared label on a basal screw or small branch. For trees or large shrubs, we first install a 3-inch stainless steel screw at the trunk’s base, fasten the label with seven twists of 22-gauge electrical wire and a loop around the screw, and finish with a series of wraps spiraling down to double-thread the label’s eyes. Branch labels are attached with the same seven twists, a generous loop around the branch to allow for future growth, and finally seven more turns and a final single coil above the branch known as the “Curatorial Twist.”


Accessioned plants in the arboretum.


Turns of wire in the “Curatorial Twist.”

Adam B. Banks is a Curatorial Assistant at the Arnold Arboretum.

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

It takes resources to gather and nurture these new voices, and we depend on the support of our member-subscribers to make it possible. But membership means more: by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum, you help to keep our collection vibrant and our research and educational mission active. Through the pages of Arnoldia, you can take part in the life of this free-to-all landscape whether you live next door or an ocean away.

For more tree-entangled art, science, and writing, subscribe to Arnoldia by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum.