Tree Germplasm Outreach at Secrest Arboretum

2012 | Jim Chatfield, Secrest Arboretum at The Ohio State University

Secrest Arboretum (The Ohio State University / Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center, Wooster, OH) is a primary research and educational arboretum for Ohio, hosting one of the most diverse living collections of woody plants, representing over 3000 species across many genera. These trees are a valuable asset to students, researchers, citizens and the $5 billion Green Industry of Ohio. However, the current tree inventory system is inadequate to protect and share the information associated with this living resource. An F2 tornado destroyed over 1,200 trees (landscape value in excess of $1.5 million) in Secrest Arboretum on September 16, 2010, and since then more than 1,000 new trees have been planted in restoration efforts. This renewal provides the perfect opportunity for modernizing the Arboretum’s tree inventory system.

Our overall goal is to make information about trees more available to people by developing a geo-referenced inventory database of the tree germplasm in Secrest Arboretum, that is publicly accessible via the web for educational, outreach and research purposes. Sustaining and extending this information in a dynamic on-line database will allow us to: provide the public and Green Industry with information on the identification and biology of trees suitable for Ohio, enhance the development of educational programs, facilitate student instruction and research, link researchers with taxa available for study, and support the economic development of plant-based markets for Ohio’s diverse Green Industry.

The specific objective of this unique project is to fund an intern to help build upon the current, incomplete and publicly-inaccessible, tree germplasm inventory at Secrest Arboretum, and help make this expanded inventory accessible to the public through an interactive website, interpretive signage, and educational programs. All of these activities will be geared toward illustrating the environmental, economic and social value of trees, dovetailing with modern tree models such as i-Tree. This is a unique opportunity to create a unified and web-accessible informational resource for Ohio trees.