Trees and shrubs native to eastern North America
The Native Plant Collection was established in 1931. At the time, 60 acres had been set aside to create the Connecticut College Arboretum. Twenty acres of this original allotment, between Williams Street and Gallows Lane, were dedicated as the Native Plant Collection. This long-standing commitment to native plants is a mainstay of the Arboretum.
As of June 2016, the Native Plant Collection contains a total of 2,427 accessioned plants, including 353 taxa with 1,039 trees, 1,353 shrubs and 35 woody vines native to eastern North America and hardy in southeastern Connecticut. Accessioned plants are from both wild and cultivated origins. The various species take turns displaying their beauty throughout all the seasons: shadbush in April; dogwood and azaleas in May; mountain laurel in June; giant rhododendron, sourwood and sweet pepperbush in July; brilliant autumn foliage in October; evergreens and conifers year-round.
Explore our new interactive map of Native Plant Collection trees, shrubs and vines.
Take a walk to learn the An A-to-Z of Native Trees and Shrubs. This typeface was created by Lana Tilke for Design: Type and Image (ART 207) in Spring 2023 to illustrate the features of a corresponding native plant for each letter of the alphabet.
A Native Plant Checklist of plants found in the Native Plant Collection is available from the Arboretum Bookstore or can be easily downloaded.
Take a self-guided tour of the Collection
The self-guided tour is an excellent way for visitors to experience many interesting Arboretum features in the Native Plant Collection. Tour pamphlets are located in a small box on the notice board just inside the Native Plant Collection entrance on Williams Street. The trail leads off to the left (south) from the head of the Laurel Walk, a long, sloping trail lined with mountain laurel. The route skirts the rose family collection and the Gries conifer collection. Next, the trail circles the south side of the shallow man-made Arboretum pond and gives the visitor a choice of loop trails to a small bog and to the oak and hemlock-forested Bolleswood natural area. It continues past Buck Lodge, a rustic stone building used for various social activities, and into the grassy outdoor theater overlooking the pond. The conclusion of the walk traverses the holly, viburnum and azalea plant collections on the way back to the entrance.
Looking for native trees and shrubs for your natural landscape?
View the treeavailability which cross-references native species with nurseries where they may be available. This list was produced by the Connecticut DEP, Bureau of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division.? You can also visit our Ecological Landscaping section and resources for more in depth information on the importance of native plants.
Don't forget to check out our upcoming programs and activities!
All Arboretum programs are open to the public and many are free or available at a discounted rate with membership.