Friday, April 30, 2021

If you’re looking to spend a spring afternoon in the beauty of a blooming arboretum, you don’t need to go further than the University of Iowa campus. The UI recently was awarded a level II accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program, meeting advanced standards that recognize the UI campus as an arboretum dedicated to public education and engagement.

The Iowa campus arboretum showcases an exceptional variety of trees and woody plant species, including more than 8,000 trees of more than 300 total species, historic and rare trees, and several state champion trees—the state champion American elm located on the Pentacrest in front of Schaeffer Hall, dawn redwood located near the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center, and the scarlet oak located northeast of Hancher Auditorium. More information can be found on the UI Campus Arboretum webpage.

“The University of Iowa has strived to make the entire campus an arboretum, providing an inviting connection to the natural world and offering opportunities for teaching, research, public education, and recreation,” says UI Arborist Andy Dahl.

Trees and plantings of interest include:

  • Seven current or former state champion trees
  • A Literary Grove curated by Dahl featuring trees with connections to famous authors at the world-famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop
  • A ginkgo collection with more than 75 cultivars located on the southeast side of Hancher Auditorium
  • An orchard featuring rare and historic fruit trees located near the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Complex along Hawkeye Park Road
  • Two American Conifer Society Reference Gardens located outside Halsey Hall and the Eckstein Medical Research Building
  • A quercetum with more than 60 species of Oaks located on the UI Research Campus off of Oakdale Boulevard

This new achievement comes alongside the UI’s 12th consecutive recognition as a Tree Campus Higher Education (formerly Tree Campus USA). The UI is the only institution in Iowa to be honored with both distinctions.

dwarf conifer garden
Dancer’s Garden, located outside Halsey Hall, is one of two conifer reference gardens recognized by the American Conifer Society. The garden provides an opportunity for the University of Iowa community to learn more about conifers.

The Facilities Management Landscape Services team maintains a number of professional standards to earn these distinctions. To achieve level II accreditation by the ArbNet program, the UI meets the criteria of maintaining more than 100 species of woody plants, a documented collections policy, and enhanced public education programs. The team also continues to meet Tree Campus Higher Education’s five core standards, maintaining a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, a campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures, an Arbor Day observance, and a service-learning project for the campus community.

Landscape Services welcomes you to visit in person or through its online tree inventory.

walnut tree
The black walnut located on the Pentacrest outside Macbride Hall is one of seven current or former state champion trees located on the University of Iowa campus. A lightning-protection system was installed in the tree’s trunk in 2013 to ward off future lightning damage. Photo by Justin Torner.

The Facilities Management Landscape Services tree crew—Mike Rhinehart (landscape construction supervisor and ISA-certified arborist), Andy Dahl (UI arborist and ISA-certified arborist/municipal specialist), Alan Allgood (UI tree trimmer and ISA-certified arborist), Micah Berg (UI tree trimmer), and Grant Raitt (groundskeeper I)—maintains the nearly 8,000 trees on the main campus and the UI Research Park, and typically plants more than 300 trees each year. For more information, visit the Landscape Services website on the recent arboretum accreditation.

ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta. The program recognizes arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity, and professionalism. Standards include planning, governance, public access, programming and tree science, planting, and conservation

Tree Campus Higher Education is an Arbor Day Foundation program that honors universities and colleges for promoting healthy management of their campus forests and for engaging the community in environmental stewardship.