MISSOULA – The University of Montana is known for its forestry program – but also for its trees. Since 1991, the UM campus has been the official State of Montana Arboretum, yet few people are aware of the resource. A new fundraising campaign seeks to fund an on-campus interpretive site to help educate and inspire the public about North American trees.

Dubbed “the Root,” the interpretive site will feature comprehensive signs about the arboretum, its trees and trees in general. The Root is located on the north side of Main Hall between the University Center and the Botany Building.

The new Oval Tree Plaque, dedicated during Arbor Day festivities at UM on Friday, April 27. (UM Photo by Ken Stolz)
The new Oval Tree Plaque, dedicated during Arbor Day festivities at UM on Friday, April 27. (UM Photo by Ken Stolz)

Today, Arbor Day, the Arboretum Committee and UM’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation kicked off the “Root for the Arboretum” campaign. They aim to raise $15,000 and are challenging the public to help meet a matching campaign. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, all funds donated toward this project will be matched up to $5,000. Donors will be recognized on the State of Montana Arboretum website.

The campaign kickoff included the dedication of the Oval Tree Plaque, a tree planting and tree dedication, music, root beer, door prizes and arboretum tours. For more information visit the State of Montana Arboretum website or the State of Montana Arboretum Facebook page.

Donations can be made online or mailed to the University of Montana Foundation, Re: UM Arboretum, P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807.

About the State of Montana Arboretum

In 1991, the UM Campus was designated the State Arboretum by act of the Montana Legislature to “facilitate the scientific study and public exhibition of many species of trees and shrubs.” With 2,300 trees of over 100 different species, the arboretum is free, open year-round and accessible to all.

In addition to emphasizing Montana habitats, the arboretum showcases trees and shrubs of eight North American bioregions: Great Plains, Central Hardwoods, Northeastern and Southeastern Mixed Forests, Northern and Southern Rockies, and Pacific Coast and Boreal Forests. Additional arboretum features include Memorial Row, an alley of Ponderosa pines planted in 1919 to commemorate 32 UM students who died in war; a 1993 Montana Centennial planting of trees and shrubs representing each Montana county; the recently replanted double ring of maple and oak trees on the Oval, emulating the original 1899 planting; and Montana native plant gardens around the Botany Building.

Signature treasures of the arboretum include one-of-a-kind hybrid larch – a rare, natural cross of Western Larch and Alpine Larch; the largest red oak in Montana; and a trail of “fossil trees” such as gingko and katsura – species that survived the ice ages. A “Hanging Tree,” named for the short story by Montanan Dorothy Johnson, honors that writer and UM Journalism professor, and a small grove of lindens commemorates Missoula radio personality Kim Williams. Other notable species includes the bristlecone pine, the oldest North American tree species.

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