Rhodes in Midst of Arboretum Re-Certification

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Publication Date: 11/23/2009


Recently, volunteers from the Memphis Botanic Garden visited Rhodes to flag and identify the major species of trees on campus. In just three hours, the volunteers flagged 52 different species. This identification process is necessary in order to re-certify Rhodes as an arboretum—an area in which an extensive variety of trees are grown for educational and ornamental purposes.

Project Coordinator Professor Rosanna Cappellato explains, “When you are being certified as an arboretum, you have to tag the trees and put together a brochure that allows individuals to engage in a self-guided tour of the arboretum. You must also have at least one volunteer available to give tours around campus showing the trees.”

When Rhodes was first certified as an arboretum in 1992, there were 164 different tree species on campus, classifying it as a Level 4 Arboretum. Unfortunately, since then inclement weather has had a significant impact on the number and diversity of trees that were part of the original survey.

At the same time, a number of new trees have been planted but have not yet been recorded as part of the Arboretum holdings. The project is now aiming to see if the number of tree species is sufficient to merit re-certification as a Level 3 Arboretum. Since 90 species are required for this designation, almost 40 more species must still be identified.

In addition to creating a brochure, the Rhodes Student Associate at the Geographic Information System Lab will be working to create an interactive map of all tree species on campus using the GIS software. This map will locate specific trees on campus and will provide information regarding the species of the tree.

Professor Cappellato emphasizes the importance of the arboretum to the community as a tool of scientific study and education, explaining “Many elementary students from the schools around Rhodes come here to collect leaves and identify them, so there’s a community component to the arboretum.”

She also emphasized the community and historical meaning of the Arboretum for Rhodes community members, such as Librarian Bill Short who donated oak seeds that were planted south of Harris Lodge 25 years ago.

For media interesting in contacting Dr. Cappellato:
Phone: 843-3081
Email: cappellator@rhodes.edu 

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Brianna McCullough ′10)