New Arboretum map shows 15k plants

January 20, 2012
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A new online map of Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum can pinpoint each of 15,000 plants, including planting date and cultivar name, on the 265-acre property.

“The Arboretum has been disseminating information about its plants for over a century, and Collection Researcher is the latest,” Curator of Living Collections Michael Dosmann told the Gazette.

The new Collection Researcher 1.0, available at map.arboretum.harvard.edu, delivers unique information on each of the Arboretum’s nearly 15,000 plants in a searchable inventory.

Looks can be deceiving: 15,000 colored dots on a map don’t look like much, until one of them is clicked. Each dot lists the plant’s type, family, location in the Arboretum and name, both common and scientific.

“There are over 130 years of staff members collecting and recording data about the plants at the Arboretum that forms the backbone of this new application,” said Arboretum spokesperson Julie Warsowe. “This new tool will be tremendously valuable to our own staff and researchers around the world.”

But even casual visitors can benefit from the interactive map. Can’t remember what specific hybrid that rose bush was? As long as a visitor can navigate an online map, he or she can find the plant and learn more in-depth information.

And that’s still in the current version, 1.0.

“Future phases of enhancements to Collection Researcher and Arboretum web applications will contain more tools and information,” Warsowe said.

“We started out with hand-written notes on index cards and hand-drawn maps, then moved to a database system and computer maps, and now Collection Researcher is the next step in expanding our capacity for research, documentation, and sharing resources,” she added.

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