August 25, 2023
The Oregon State University campus in Corvallis is known for two features – its majestic brick study halls and the more than 65,000 individual trees that line its streets and walking paths.
Recently the greenery that adorns the 570-acre campus has been recognized as an arboretum by the Arbnet Arboretum Accreditation Program, an international organization that honors excellence in tree-focused gardens.
The program is the only one of its kind in the world, and its recognition validates OSU’s reputation as a beautiful, walkable campus, said Ryan Contreras, associate department head of the Department of Horticulture and professor in the College of Agriculture.
“The accreditation formalized the collection,” Contreras said. “Our campus is a living, learning laboratory. It’s important aesthetically, but also for research, teaching and outreach. We have a diverse group of plants and moving forward proper curation will maintain the character of OSU’s historic campus as it grows and develops and increases its public outreach and education.”
The recognition comes as OSU is still in the midst of its summer session, with fall classes set to begin in late September. Researchers on the campus this week told Farm Press the accreditation had been anticipated and that they were excited to see it come to fruition.
A long process
Contreras began the process for accreditation in 2011 when he won a grant for an intern to inventory all the different plants and bushes on campus, according to university officials. The count recorded large collections of magnolia, elm and oak and one of the largest assortments of rhododendrons in the country with more than 7,000 shrubs.
Last year, horticulture graduate student Dan Blanchard began digging through data in old binders, glass slides and maps in his quest to identify plants. He has labeled 100 so far and has a goal of 1,000, which would increase the level of the university’s accreditation, campus officials said.
The campus site in the heart of Corvallis dates back to 1879, with its farm established in 1871. OSU already has Tree Campus USA status, has been recognized by Tree Campus Higher Education from the Arbor Day Foundation for 15 years in a row and contains several Oregon Heritage Trees.
Among the oldest trees are two blue atlas cedars planted in 1893 and giant sequoias planted around a century ago.
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