Summer Arrives at the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Cunninghamia lanceolata                (Chinese Fir) Bluish evergreen foliage contrasts nicely with its scaly bark. This evergreen tree from China is an important timber tree in its native area. In 1701, James Cunningham (one of the first European plant hunters to visit China) described and collected this tree. 2)  Hydrangea integrifolia                                                      (Evergreen Climbing Hydrangea) A vigorous, evergreen vine climbing to over 40 feet, on the trunk of a mature Douglas Fir. 

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The Wonderful World of Monocots

Monocotyledons, commonly referred to as monocots, are flowering plants whose seeds typically contain only one embryonic leaf, or cotyledon.  A quarter of the world’s known plants are monocots. They are the most economically important group of plants to humans today in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fiber industries.  Here are a few samples of monocots in our plant collections. 1)  Allium schubertii                                                                            (Ornamental Tumbleweed Onion) Dried seed heads look like starry tumbleweeds or shooting star fireworks Located in the Soest Herbaceous Display Garden, bed 6 at the Center for Urban Horticulture 2)  Austroderia richardii syn Cortedaria r.                      

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Spring Pushes Forth at the Washington Park Arboretum

1)   Ostrya carpinifolia                Hop Hornbeam This small-to-medium-sized tree (40-50’) is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia. The common name refers to the fruit which resembles the fruit of Humulus (Hops). Ostrya is from Greek, meaning “bone-like” in reference to the trees dense hard wood. Located north of East Foster Island Road, east of the Broadmoor entrance. 2)  Picea mariana ‘Doumetii’                Doumet Black Spruce This selection of Picea mariana is a popular slow-growing shrub with blue green needles and a dense conical growth habit. 

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May Colors Appear Just in Time for Mother's Day!

Happy Mother’s Day! 1)  Philadelphus coronarius Native to southeastern Europe and Asia Minor, this shrub is located within the Sorbus Collection. It is perhaps the best-known species of mock orange in gardens because of its sweet smell. The fragrance of its flowers is pleasing out-of-doors, but may become too strong if the plants are numerous or near sitting room windows. Philadelphus is a member of the plant family, Hydrangeaceae. 

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"Story Time" at the Washington Park Arboretum

The stories of people and plants are intricately intertwined.  The plants of the University of Washington Botanic Gardens have many stories to tell, and here are just a few to wet your whistle.  Explore our website at to look up and locate plants in the Arboretum and learn more of our stories. 1)  Abies grandis – Grand Fir                “Fir Above It All” This particular tree has witnessed the entire history of the Washington Park Arboretum.  

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April Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Acer mandshuricum                Manchurian Maple The Manchurian Maple is native from Eastern Siberia into China and strongly resembles Acer griseum and Acer triflorum. This species is located in the Asian Maples Collection. 2)  Distylium racemosum                Isu Tree The flowers of Distylium racemosum are petalless, but have attractive red calyces (whorl of sepals) and purple stamens. The Isu tree is native to southern Japan, but can be found in the Witt Winter Garden and in our Hamamelidaceae Collection, east of Arboretum Drive near the Pacific Connections gardens. 

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A Subtle Side of Spring

Spring is not typically known for its subtlety around these parts, but upon its early awakening many plants warrant a closer look. Enjoy! 1)  Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’                     Katsura Maple One of the first Japanese maples to leaf out each spring. The small, five-lobed leaves emerge pale yellow-orange, with brighter orange margins. Found in the semi-dwarf group of Japanese maples. Specimen 19-10*A is located in grid 30-4E. 

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February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum (Part II)

1)  Chaenomeles cathayensis                   Chinese Quince This deciduous shrub is native to slopes and forest margins in western Hubei Province. Light pink flowers in spring are followed by large oblong fruit which are unpalatable raw, but make fragrant jams and jellies when cooked. Like other quince, Chaenomeles cathayensis’ arching branches are armed with stiff thorns. Two specimens can be seen in the old field nursery south of the Crab Apple Meadow near Arboretum Drive. 

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February Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

1)  Pinus greggii This three-needle pine from northeastern Mexico is closely akin to P. patula but less ornamental.  Its oval-conical cone clusters stay closed on the branch for several years.  This specimen and the others described here can be found within Crabapple Meadow, along the east side of Arboretum Drive. 2)  Pinus jeffreyi Native mainly of California in the Sierra Nevada and Siskiyous, this lofty tree is said to grow to 200 feet in the wild.  

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Late January Color Appears at the Washington Park Arboretum

Sleeping Beauties 1)  Oemleria cerasiformis                Indian Plum The Indian Plum adheres to Benjamin Franklin’s advice in Poor Richards Almanac: “Early to bed, early to rise. . . .”  This shrub goes to sleep early, beginning to slowly defoliate in late summer.  However, it is one of the first to leaf out, and flowers early in the spring.  It can be found throughout the Arboretum, and is just beginning to awaken. 

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