Aspiring Plant Geek

June 1st, 2012 by Arboretum Education Supervisor, Patrick Mulligan

posted on behalf of UW Student and Arboretum volunteer extraordinaire, Lora Mitchell

Aspiring Plant Geek, Lora Mitchell

This quarter I signed up for an environmental studies course that offered service learning. Upon first learning about the service learning program I was intrigued, but slightly hesitant until I saw a position at the Washington State Arboretum. Thrilled at the idea of working with plants the entire quarter I immediately signed up for that position. You see, I’m a biology major who also happened to be talking a lant identification course this quarter as well. I figured working at the arboretum would not only be a great experience in it of itself, but it could also help me learn plant families. My job consisted of making plant ID sheets and eventually tweeting about current plants in bloom around the arboretum. With summer around the corner, being able to walk along hidden paths throughout the arboretum discovering plants I had never heard of or seen before was amazing. Informing the community about native plants is important in building a sustainable future. Some of my favorite discoveries include…

Dove Tree (Davidia involucrata)

The beautiful Dove Tree, part of the family Cornaceae (Dogwoods) was in bloom on my last visit to the arboretum. When first seeing this plant I initially thought it to be a magnolia, but after learning its name discovered it’s actually part of the dogwood family.

Now,  Magnolia sinensis is one of the most beautiful magnolias I had ever seen. It is endemic, or restricted to, China and is being threatened by habitat loss.

 

 

 

The Golden English Oak (Quercus robur ‘Concordia’) glistens in the sun, making it hard not to notice. Native to Europe, with bright golden-yellow leaves, this tree made me stop in my tracks. On that beautiful May afternoon I stood for a while and looked in awe.

Overall, I have enjoyed my experience at the Arboretum this spring quarter. I have learned a lot more about various plants and will definitely make a habit of stopping by from time to just to look around. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be able to help during the summer.

 

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