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NEWS RELEASE No: 1634927 AUGUST 2014

Arboretum team head to America in search of ‘autumn bangers’

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Hickory tree in full autumnal glory

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 (Carya) 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 22 September, 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.


For more information please contact:
Emily Pryor, Westonbirt Arboretum on 01666 881207 or e-mail
Max Boon, Spirit Public Relations on 0117 944 1415 or e-mail

Notes to Editors

  • The National Arboretum is situated at Westonbirt, three miles from Tetbury in Gloucestershire
  • The National Arboretum is open from 9am Monday to Sunday all year round except Christmas Day
  • Information on admission and events can be found at

1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains nearly 15,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 27,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Further information can be found at

3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity’s objects are to support the National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at  

4. The Westonbirt Project will make a big difference to everybody who comes to the arboretum. The project will mean a better welcome, a better visit and a better understanding of the heritage and importance of this world class tree collection. More information can be found at