Additional Images


Eastern Inner Loop


Visitors learn that the trees in the woodlot where they are standing have grown undisturbed for over 170 years.

" . . . The Penn State arboretum shall strive to become an interdisciplinary 'institute for land health' . . . ."


Mission Statement


Looking toward the East Sub-Campus from beside the Hosler Oak during its first year after being transplanted to the Arboretum.

In the traditional sense, arboreta are curated collections of trees, shrubs, and other plants arranged deliberately for study and display. Although the traditional definition is still relevant, modern arboreta may use their plant collections to support scholarship and education in ways that were not envisioned just decades ago. To illustrate the range of possibilities, the subject of study may be not only the plants themselves (e.g., horticulture, botany, dendrology), but also the arrangement of plants and plant communities in the landscape, and perhaps even the landscape as a cultural or ecological feature (e.g., ecology, landscape architecture, geography, social sciences). Other scholarly pursuits, perhaps not so intrinsically linked to arboreta as most of the above examples, may be catalyzed, encouraged, or facilitated by the presence of the arboretum and its facilities (e.g., geology, architecture, fine arts, engineering). The display, or design, of this arboretum is arranged to support these pursuits of study, as well as amenity and recreation, in accord with the mission of The Arboretum at Penn State.


The mission of The Arboretum at Penn State is to promote the quality of human life by seeking, through scholarship, research, and education, collaborative solutions to growing demands on the natural landscape and its resources. As a place of beauty in a rapidly expanding metropolitan area, an educational facility, and a microcosm of the human-nature continuum in settled landscapes, The Arboretum at Penn State shall strive to become an interdisciplinary "institute for land health" of state, regional, and perhaps national significance.


College of Agricultural Sciences

Although arboreta everywhere are attempting to address missions relevant to contemporary issues, older arboreta are constrained by long-lived collections assembled for such traditional purposes as the phylogenetic display of specimen plants. The design concept envisioned for The Arboretum at Penn State is contemporary and innovative. Its essence is the harmonious composition of seemingly disparate elements: buildings, agriculture, gardens, plantation forests, and natural plant communities — a human/nature continuum — and, supporting all, the water and soil of the land (sensu Leopold). With its rich tapestry of multidimensional but unified elements, the Arboretum will itself be a metaphor for environmentally compatible use of the natural landscape by humans. The following interpretive themes will be emphasized: (1) richness of biological and ecological diversity in native and cultivated collections; (2) stewardship and conservation of soil, water, and biological resources; (3) environmentally compatible use of the landscape - maintaining balance in the human/nature continuum; and (4) restoration of degraded landscapes.


Source: Richard Ackley
Promoting stewardship of the land is one of the Arboretum's main themes.

The site of Penn State’s Arboretum is the most expansive, remaining open space adjacent to this growing university and rapidly urbanizing metropolitan area. Because of its unique topography and location, the site is a place of unexpected serenity and solitude in a community generally crowded with the sounds of people and their vehicles. Within the area of the Arboretum is a historically important forest grove with herbaceous species of special botanical significance, and the site straddles an important groundwater recharge and well-head protection zone that is critical to the local water supply. The Arboretum borders the Mount Nittany Expressway (soon to become part of Interstate 99) and Park Avenue, which are becoming the principal routes of arrival at the University. The site is also adjacent to two residential neighborhoods (College Heights and Overlook Heights) and within walking distance of a retirement facility, The Village at Penn State, and another residential community, Toftrees.

At a greater distance are located other facilities with potential programmatic linkages to The Arboretum at Penn State. Examples of these include the Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, Stone Valley Recreation Area and Experimental Forest, Valentine Turfgrass Research Center (which may move to the Arboretum), effluent spray fields, and a deer research center.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that the context of The Arboretum at Penn State also includes a human resource - interested faculty and staff with tremendous breadth of expertise relevant to the mission of the Arboretum.


All of the land stretching from Overlook Heights, the residential neighborhood where this photo was taken, to the buildings in the background is encompassed in the Arboretum. The buildings silhouetted (Agricultural Science and Industries, and Housing and Food Services) are on the eastern side of the University Park Campus.

All of the land stretching from Overlook Heights, the residential neighborhood where this photo was taken, to the buildings in the background will be encompassed in the Arboretum. The buildings silhouetted (Agricultural Science and Industries, and Housing and Food Services) are on the eastern side of the University Park Campus.

In the 21st century, The Arboretum at Penn State will be one of the most renowned facilities on campus, a significant scientific and aesthetic resource that will draw visitors, students, conference participants, visiting scholars, and new faculty. The Arboretum will be one of those special features of campus that strengthen personal attachments to Penn State. Its Education Center and other facilities will be the location of scientific conferences and programs for students participating in resident education, cooperative extension, and outreach activities on a multitude of cross-disciplinary topics. The foresight demonstrated in protecting this area from intensive development will be an example of the planning and cooperation possible in our burgeoning, but fundamentally individualistic, society. Reconstructions of local prairie and forest communities and the protection of groundwater resources will provide historic perspective and demonstrate the benefits of wise stewardship of our natural resources. As an outdoor classroom used by numerous campus academic programs and their clients, the Arboretum will become known for excellence and innovation in interdisciplinary approaches to environmental and conservation issues.

Developing The Arboretum at Penn State will have considerable practical benefit to the University as a support facility for programs in horticulture, forestry, biology, landscape architecture, engineering, ecology, entomology, geosciences, geography, and other environmentally oriented departments and colleges. The close proximity of the site to central campus will also make the Arboretum a convenient and valuable resource for a wide variety of educational, cultural, and social activities and events. The Education Center of the Arboretum will become a preeminent facility for outreach programs, distinguished lectures, small international conferences, and (in its patio garden) important receptions. Most importantly, the Arboretum that we envision will "fit" Penn State — it matches, complements, and preserves the qualities and ambiance that make this campus unique and attractive to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and visitors.

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