Since 1922, the Arboretum has sponsored or participated in expeditions throughout the Northern hemisphere to collect seeds and plants for study, evaluation, and breeding. Collecting a diversity of seeds and dried plant specimens has led to the introduction of hardier and more disease-resistant species, and increased diversity of urban and suburban landscapes.
The Arboretum's most recent plant collection trip was to Shaanxi Province, China in the remote Qinling Mountains in fall 2011. Kunso Kim, Head of Collections & Curator, was part of an international team of plant scientists from the North American China Plant Exploration Consortium (NACPEC). The team collected 57 different trees and plants, some of which are facing extinction. Read more about Kim's trip.
In fall 2008, Kris Bachtell, Vice President of Collections and Facilities, visited the same area to collect seeds of wild Chinese ash species that may be resistant to the Emerald ash borer (EAB). Bachtell collected seeds from 77 different trees and plants along with 87 herbarium samples for scientific study. Among the collections were seeds from five Chinese ash species, which will be part of a study conducted this year that will reveal whether or not the Chinese ashes are resistant to EAB. If the young trees prove resistant, the Arboretum will experiment with breeding Chinese and American ash hybrids that would preserve the ash as a useful urban tree.
The Arboretum is dedicated to providing better plants for the region through collection efforts. Our extensive collections, combined with our diligent research into the effects of pests, diseases, and climatic conditions on plants, make the Arboretum an ideal place to conduct our tree and shrub breeding program.
Bachtell completed seven plant collection expeditions to China. Kunso Kim, Curator and Assistant Director of Collections, has participated in Plant Collecting Collaborative explorations to the Ozark Mountains in 2004 and Appalachian Mountains in 2000. Prior to coming to the Arboretum, he conducted several collection trips in Korea, and spent seven weeks exploring the Qinling Mountains in China. To date, Arboretum researchers have collected a total of 160,000 dried plant specimens housed in our herbarium.