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Have you ever spotted a Witches’ Broom?

Witches’  Broom is a term commonly used for any tight cluster of abnormal branching or twiggy growth within a tree or shrub.  Caused by factors including fungus, bacteria, or insect damage, they may appear in evergreen and deciduous trees alike.  These odd growths have become popular among plant enthusiasts, who propagate them through a process called grafting to create new […]

The Bugs of Bernheim: Cicada Killers

Cicada Killers: who’s listening? On hot summer days, the air is filled with the sound of cicadas.  The male’s mating call is a loud series of beats and clicks strung together to make one long, continuous undulating song.  While preoccupied with finding love, the cicada has inadvertently captured the attention of another female insect who […]

Vanishing Acts: Wild Apple

The apples we know today: brilliant reds, greens, yellows with a hint of blush, were not always so aesthetically pleasing, nor was their taste delightful, sweet, and crisp. The first apples before domestication were actually small hard fruits resembling our common crabapple. Tasteless, unpalatable, and enjoyed only by wildlife, it was from the wild apple […]

Vanishing Acts: Pacific Yew

As science and medicine evolves, we gain a greater understanding of the complexities of human diseases and potential curative properties of the species within the earth’s botanical resources. Researchers with the National Cancer Institute partnered with the USDA in the early 1960’s to evaluate possible anti-cancer agents within the world’s forests. Of the species tested, […]

Vanishing Acts: Magnolia Officinalis

Magnolia officinalis, sometimes referred to as the Houpa magnolia, is essentially unknown outside of China where it grows only in mountainous regions and valleys. It is a fast growing tree, reaching 50 feet in height, bearing highly aromatic large flowers in the spring. It is prized among Chinese herbalists, not for its flower, but for […]

Vanishing Acts: In Search of Trees

With only a few days to go, we anxiously anticipate the public opening of the Vanishing Acts exhibit which highlights rare and endangered species from all over the world.  Informative, interactive signs have been installed and are a great resource for learning about these species and their importance in the world’s forest.  Many of the […]

Hollies for the Holidays

Of the many plants associated with the holiday season, the Holly (Ilex sp.) has perhaps the oldest history of any other decorative evergreen.  The use of holly in holiday tradition dates back to the Greeks and Romans, who adorned their homes with wreaths and garland made from holly boughs.  This tradition was thought to predict the outcome […]

Big Prairie Overlook Gets a Makeover

By Horticulturist Eric Garris We are excited to announce grand changes to the Big Prairie Overlook! The Overlook is the highest point within the Arboretum and offers spectacular views of the prairie and surrounding plant collections. A new accessible walkway has been installed, which meanders its way to Issac W. Bernheims’ gravesite atop the hill. […]