Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Morton Arboretum: Meeting an old friend

Posted by Richard B. Primack

“Nothing makes the earth so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.” 
-Thoreau, May 22, 1843 in his correspondence

In August, I visited the Morton Arboretum in Chicago. For the past seven years, we have collaborated with Robert Fahey and other Morton researchers to monitor leafing out times, leaf senescence times, and fruiting times as part of an international network of botanical gardens. The Morton, founded in 1922 by the owner of the Morton Salt Company, is a scientific institution with taxonomic collections similar to the Arnold Arboretum and with a special focus on urban street trees. The Morton also has strong outreach to the public, as indicated by flower displays, a visitor center, and appealing exhibits such as the origami sculptures scattered around the grounds. 

Origami horses in the conifer collection

My host Chuck Cannon, Director of the Center for Tree Science, has many interesting parallels to my own career, having studied at the same universities, worked in Malaysia and China, and shifted from tropical ecology to climate change biology.

Chuck Cannon and me next to an origami sculpture in front of the visitor center

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