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Springtime in Boston at the Arnold Arboretum

Magnolia dawsoniana, Dawson’s magnolia, is a rare magnolia species native to Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in China. They were first cultivated in the Americas in 1908 at the Arnold Arboretum, after the assistant director at the time E.H. White sent seeds back from China to Massachusetts. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/Boston University News Service)

By Mia Macaluso

Boston University News Service

Although the last vestiges of winter are still clinging to Boston – it seems we’ll still be wearing heavy jackets well into May, signs of spring have taken hold all throughout the city.

Nowhere is this more evident than at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, the oldest public arboretum in North America. If you have access to the MBTA and a few hours on your hands, this is the perfect way to spend some time getting some fresh air that’s usually absent from the big city, all while staying within city limits.

Located in Jamaica Plain, the arboretum is over 250 acres and has thousands of specimens of trees and flowering bushes from around the world, making for a beautiful display. Each tree is clearly marked with its scientific name, family name, collection data, and common name, making everything easy to identify.

Although picnicking is only allowed on one day of the year – “Lilac Sunday,” or May 14 this year – the Arnold Arboretum is perfect for long walks and taking the dog out on a new adventure this spring and summer.

Randomly blooming among all the magnolia trees are Narcissus poeticus, or the poet’s daffodil. Although learning that its scientific name being based on a Greek tragedy might bring you down, its simple beauty shines in the cool spring air. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
The Asian pearleaf crabapple is one of several crabapple varieties on the grounds. This specific species is native to China and Korea, but they also have species native to Europe and the Americas in an entire section just for crabapples. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Lamprocapnos, more commonly known as the Asian bleeding-heart or the lyre flower, is a flowering plant native to Northeast Asia and Japan. It’s one of the most striking flowers in the entire arboretum. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
The large grove of magnolia trees near the visitor’s center show off both pink and white magnolias. This specific species of pink magnolia is native to southwest China. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Sweet cherries, another member of the rose family, have a native span of Britain to West Asia; however, popularity of its fruit has led to its cultivation across the globe, and its beautiful flowers don’t hurt its popularity either. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Pear trees, another fruit favorite, can be found in the arboretum. Native to Southern Europe and the Middle East, pear flowers are yet another member of rosaceae, the rose family. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Rosaceae seems to be a favorite among the cultivators of the arboretum. Blackthorn blossom petals line many of the walkways as they delicately drift from the trees to the ground below. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
These vivid Chinese quinces are members of the rose family from southern and eastern China. The quince bush typically grows fruit in late spring and early summer, which is then typically used in jams and herbal medicine. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Many smaller flowers like these lesser celandines dot the open fields and forest floors of the arboretum. Although not specifically planted by the horticulturists and botanists on staff, their beauty can still be appreciated by visitors. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Each plant is clearly identified through this strict labeling system in the arboretum. The tags are either twisted around one of the tree’s branches with a metal wire or nailed into the trunk of the tree.  (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
American robins seemed to be the most common birds in the arboretum. Many of them were not afraid to get pretty close to the humans on the trails. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Canadian geese are also frequent visitors to the arboretum. These two didn’t seem spooked by the amount of visitors that passed them. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)
Barely visible among the reeds, a great blue heron stalks prey in one of the ponds at the arboretum. The lakes host several species of fish, frogs, and turtles. (Photo by Mia Macaluso/BU News Service)

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