A TEAM from the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt, Gloucestershire, will travel to North America this September on a seed collecting expedition.
They hope the results of the trip, which has been partly funded by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum charity, will enhance and improve future autumn colour at the arboretum.
North America is renowned for its seasonal show of autumn colour and tourists nicknamed ‘leaf peepers’ travel from far afield to see the spectacular displays of red, orange and yellow hues during the ‘fall’ season.
The team will be collecting seeds from mid-western and southern-eastern states to enhance Westonbirt’s national collections, improve research potential and continue the development of the arboretum to ensure its future for years to come.
Some of the species that the team hope to collect will be new additions to the arboretum’s fifteen thousand trees; among these are species of hickories which are renowned for their incredible bright yellow autumn show.
The team also hope to return with other new or re- introduced species including sugar maples and their close relatives. These trees are widely known for a spectacular show of autumn leaf colour in their native habitat.
Forestry Commission dendrologist, Dan Crowley said: “We are hoping to collect seed from some of America’s fascinating native species, some of which are renowned for their autumn colour display. “Once planted out, these new trees will strengthen our national collections, enhance the autumn colour here at Westonbirt and help to ensure the future of the arboretum.
“Collecting seed from a slightly warmer climate means as we propagate and then plant the trees we’ll be able to trial them in our growing conditions.
“We will observe which species grow well and therefore which could become more prominent in Westonbirt’s autumnal scene in the future.”
Dendrologist, Dan Crowley and tree team supervisor Richard Townsend will set off on Monday, September 22, alongside an Arborist from Royal Botanic Gardens’ Wakehurst Place.
They will study at herbaria in various locations including the Morton Arboretum, and the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis, before heading out into the field to start collecting.
The team will then stop at various nature reserves and forests to collect from the wild before bringing the seed back to Westonbirt.
The seed collected will be shared with partner institutions including RBG Kew and Wakehurst Place and will be propagated and planted out into the arboretum over the next few years.
The team will be reporting back through blogs during their time in North America, to read the accounts of their trip visit the Westonbirt Facebook page.