University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum

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University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum
Winter view

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum is a teaching and research facility of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the site of historic research in ecological restoration. In addition to its 1,260 acres (5 km2) in Madison, Wisconsin (about four miles from the main campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison), the Arboretum also manages 520 acres of remnant forests and prairies throughout Wisconsin.

History[edit]

The arboretum was established in the early 1930s on farmland fields and pastures. Its first research director was Aldo Leopold who outlined a research agenda around re-establishing “original Wisconsin” landscape and plant communities, particularly those that predated European settlement, such as tallgrass prairie and oak savanna.[1] From 1935 to 1941 crews from the Civilian Conservation Corps provided most of the labor to accomplish this task. Such work would eventually become known as ecological restoration. Some of the first tall-grass prairie restorations in the United States took place at the Arboretum.[2]

In addition to its long-standing commitment to ecological restoration, the Arboretum also features traditional horticultural collections of labeled plants arranged in garden-like displays.

Today the Arboretum manages the oldest restored prairie along with an extensive collection of restored ecosystems that are referred to as "ecological communities": woodlands, savannas, prairies, wetlands, springs, and the Lake Wingra shoreline.[1]

Prairies and savannas[edit]

More than 300 species of native plants that once dominated the landscape of southern Wisconsin have been restored to the arboretum's prairies and savannas.

  • Curtis Prairie (60 acres) - described as the world's oldest restored prairie; a tallgrass prairie with big bluestem grass and Indian grass.
  • Greene Prairie (50 acres) - planted by prairie expert Henry Greene during the 1940s and 1950s.
  • Marion Dunn Prairie (4 acres) - amelioration of a settling pond.
  • Marsh Connection - transition between Curtis Prairie and wetlands.
  • Sinaiko Overlook Prairie (5 acres) - mesic to dry-mesic prairie dominated by Indian grass.
  • Southwest Grady Oak Savanna - southern Wisconsin fire-adapted communities.
  • Wingra Oak Savanna - open-grown bur oaks, being restored by the replacement of its understory of non-native trees, shrubs, and weeds with grassland species.

Deciduous forests[edit]

  • Gallistel Woods (28 acres) - will eventually be representative of a southern Wisconsin sugar maple forest.
  • Grady Dry Oak Woods - part of the southern Wisconsin fire communities.
  • Noe Woods (41 acres) - white oaks and black oaks; the larger oaks are now about 150 years old. Noe woods is named for the Bartlett-Noé (sometimes spelled Noe, without the accent over the “e”) family farm, which was sold by Mrs. Jessie Bartlett Noé to the University in 1933 for inclusion in the Arboretum.
  • Wingra Woods (52 acres) - oak woods underplanted with sugar maple, basswood, and beech; gradually changing to a forest with sugar maple as the dominant species.

Conifer forests[edit]

  • Boreal Forest (14 acres) - spruce and fir plantings.
  • Leopold Pines (21 acres) - red and white pines planted between 1933 and 1937, with small numbers of red maple, white birch, and northern shrubs and ground plants.
  • Lost City Forest - mixed woodlands.

Wetlands[edit]

Horticultural collections[edit]

  • Longenecker Horticultural Gardens (35 acres) - more than 5,000 plants of more than 2,500 taxa; a leading collection of trees, shrubs and vines in Wisconsin. Major displays of lilacs, flowering crabapples (said to be one of the most complete and up-to-date in the world), viburnums, conifers (including a large collection of arborvitae cultivars), and dozens of other plant groups. More than 100 of Wisconsin's native woody plants are represented in the collections.
  • Viburnum Garden - more than 80 species and varieties of viburnums, and 110 species and varieties of arborvitae.
  • Wisconsin Native Plant Garden (4 acres) - approximately 500 native Wisconsin plants, with demonstrations for home landscaping.

Recreational use[edit]

In addition to being a research facility, the Arboretum is also a leisure destination for local residents and tourists. It includes 20 miles of hiking trails, 3 miles of biking roads, 10 miles of ski/snowshoe routes. The arboretum is open to the public daily without charge.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum: History.
  2. ^ Meine, Curt. Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988.

Further reading[edit]

  • Court, Franklin. E. Pioneers of Ecological Restoration: The People and Legacy of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-299-28664-4 (paperback). ISBN 978-0-299-28663-7 (eBook)
  • Jordan, William R. The Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restoration and the New Communion with Nature. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 2012.
  • Kline, Virginia M. and Grant Cottam. "The University of Wisconsin Arboretum: Restoring Biotic Communities". Wisconsin Academy Review, vol. 36, no. 1 (December 1989): 16-20.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°02′29″N 89°25′50″W / 43.041425°N 89.430652°W / 43.041425; -89.430652