The Purdue Arboretum has created global technology for students, faculty and visitors to learn about the diverse plants on the Purdue campus.
Paul Siciliano Jr., professor of horticulture and landscape architecture and director of the arboretum, described an arboretum as “a collection of woody plant material like trees and shrubs,” and said that “the arboretum of Purdue is unique in that the plants have been planted for this purpose. of campus landscaping, and nothing else.
“An important aspect of the project is that the plants are labeled so people know what they are looking at and are encouraged to find more information about the plants,” said Siciliano. “We have such a neat collection … that we have expanded the labeling. There was labeling and trails that existed on campus before the idea of an arboretum was conceived. So not only do we now have all of the unique types of plants on campus labeled, but unlike before, we have additional information provided by the learning platform.
The arboretum learning platform comes in the form of a website that allows users to scan QR codes of any plant in the arboretum to learn more about the plant, participate to any of the existing arboretum tours and even create their own tour. of their favorite plants and artwork on the Purdue campus.
Kirby Kalbaugh, the applications and systems administrator in the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Department, said the platform is handy because it doesn’t require the user to download it.
“Our vision is to be the clearinghouse for everything that is outdoors and involves landscaping,” Kalbaugh said. “The purpose of the mobile learning platform is to tell the story. The system will educate the public and will also be a resource for those who want to learn more about the different plants in the arboretum.
Andrea Brennan was the first full-time employee to work at the arboretum as a student before embarking on a master’s program in public horticulture. Brennan was among the first group of student interns when the idea for the arboretum began in 2008.
Brennan and the rest of the team began documenting plants around campus, a difficult task, given that the plants around campus are constantly changing. The team continued to do this for several years to cover the expanse of Purdue’s 956 acres of land.
New trees are planted in the spring and fall of each year, with an estimated 75 new trees arriving on the Purdue campus each season. The land service contributes to the integration of new species around the campus and to the increase of diversity in the arboretum. In addition to replacing and adding new trees each year, the arboretum’s next goal is to incorporate native Indiana plants into its collection.
“As we know what we have and what we have is mapped, we are able to work with the facilities planning and the landscape architect to formulate our requests for the trees that we would like to add to the campus, in order to diversify the campus. Said Siciliano. “In fact, one of the things we’re doing right now is cultivating native Indiana plants, trees and shrubs, with the goal of turning them into a resource and providing the campus with more native species. from Indiana.
The Purdue Arboretum is not a traditional collection of woody plants.
“Purdue is the only university, to our knowledge, where the entire campus is a collection of woody plants, and which gives people the opportunity to learn more about these plants,” Kalbaugh said.
“It is a daunting task to keep the database accurate and it is the students who have made a huge contribution to this. Essentially, the student workers at the arboretum are the ones who keep the system up to date and accurate. It is thanks to the dedication and passion of the students involved from the beginning that the arboretum is what it is today.
For more information on how you can get involved with the Purdue Arboretum and create your own tour, check out their website.