Arboretum 16 acres bigger than thought

July 5, 2013
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ARBORWAY—Arnold Arboretum is one of the biggest jewels in the Emerald Necklace—even bigger than advertised.

Administrators recently discovered that the Arboretum is 16 acres bigger than the number it has used in various publications for the past 75 years. The Arboretum is approximately 281 acres in area rather than the often-cited 265 acres.

As explained in a brief article posted to the Arboretum website in April, the incorrect acreage is a combination of sloppiness and tradition. The 265 acres measurement came from an admittedly poorly done survey in 1937-38 that was reported in an Arboretum magazine and nonetheless became the official standard. Arboretum staff then continued using the number despite such obvious changes as the addition of the 18-acre Bussey Brook Meadow area to the park in 1996.

The new measurements come from the use of modern tools during the mapping of the Arboretum’s entire plant collection. It is unclear when exactly the new calculation was made and whether it has any practical impacts. Arboretum administrators did not respond to Gazette questions.

The Arboretum is a Harvard University-operated tree and plant collection that doubles as a City of Boston public park. For more information, see arboretum.harvard.edu.

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