Want to learn more about native trees and plants? Adkins Arboretum has released a series of family-friendly field guides as an introduction to some of the more than 600 species of native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, ferns, grasses and vines found on the Arboretum site.
While the Arboretum’s public education programs are on hold due to safer-at-home advisories, grounds are open daily for exploring. The new Adkins Field Guides provide a helpful starting point for exploring the natural world or introducing a young naturalist to the wonders of the wild.
Each guide includes a video and printable support activities with select points of identification and examples of each species’ ecological benefits and cultural significance. All allow ample opportunity for exploration. Currently, guides are available for American beech, paw paw, shining sumac and white oak.
The field guide series was produced by Schoolhouse Farmhouse of Cordova and was made possible through generous funding by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area. Music for the first four guides was performed by National Music Festival musicians during the Arboretum’s 2019 Forest Music program. The bassoon composition, titled “Arboretum,” was written by Brad Balliett specifically for this performance.
The Adkins Field Guides comprise just one of several initiatives to make outdoor education accessible, both to those who visit the grounds in person and those who visit online. Each Thursday, staff release a new, family-friendly “Take It With You!” activity that visitors can use to add an extra layer of fun and adventure to their walks at the Arboretum. Visitors can download a PDF or simply snap a photo of the activity with their phones. A paper copy is posted on the back door of the Visitor’s Center, along with other information to keep members and friends up to date.
Sylvan Kaufman, the Arboretum’s science advisor and the principal of Sylvan Green Earth Consulting, has developed a series of short education videos about the natural history of some of the plants on the Arboretum grounds. Each video is packed with information on identification, plant-animal interactions and some human uses for the plant. In addition, monthly “What’s in Bloom?” guides, information for birders, and the Arboretum’s recently revamped Native Plant Database provide valuable resources for exploring nature at Adkins and beyond.
The Adkins Field Guides and all other virtual resources are available at adkinsarboretum.org.