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University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum

University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum
Winter view

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum, 1,260 acres (5 km2), is an arboretum operated by the University of Wisconsin–Madison and located at 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, Wisconsin. The arboretum is open to the public daily without charge.

The arboretum was established in the early 1930s on farmland fields and pastures, when the university decided to re-establish natural landscapes upon the site. From 1935 to 1941 crews from the Civilian Conservation Corps provided most of the labor to accomplish this task. Today the arboretum describes its collection of restored ecosystems as not only the oldest but also the most extensive in the United States.


  • Prairies and savannas 1
  • Deciduous forests 2
  • Conifer forests 3
  • Wetlands 4
  • Horticultural collections 5
  • Further reading 6
  • See also 7
  • External links 8

Prairies and savannas

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 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

  • 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

  • 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.


Horticultural collections

  • 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.

Further reading

  • 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)
  • The University of Wisconsin Arboretum: Restoring Biotic Communities Wisconsin Academy Review, December 1989

See also

External links

  • University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum
  • Designing in the Prairie Spirit An online film about the Native Plant Garden at the U of Wisconsin Arboretum at Madison

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