Colorado State University Campus Arboretum

ArbNet Level III Arboretum

interpretive signage within the Heritage ArboretumThe Colorado State University (CSU) Campus Arboretum and Botanical Garden embodies CSU’s land-grant heritage and mission by offering an engaging learning laboratory environment for students, employees, and community visitors. We manage trees diverse in terms of age (from newly planted to 140 years old), class, and species (approx. 300 species), distributed over three campuses (Main, South, and Foothills), comprising 2,400 acres of land. The largest trees have up to a 69” diameter at breast height (DBH), with an average trunk diameter of 10.65 inches. The most common CSU main campus tree is honeylocust (9.78 percent), followed by green ash (8.83 percent), blue spruce (7.15 percent), Rocky Mountain Juniper (5.72 percent) and Austrian pine (5.22 percent). We are actively and intentionally working to establish better species diversity, so our overall campus forest will be more resilient to invasive pests, climate change, and severe weather events.

The majority of CSU’s managed urban forest is located on the Main Campus within 220 acres of irrigated landscape. The Campus Arboretum leverages the investments of our historical and diverse urban forest, the Heritage Arboretum and Garden, CSU Horticulture Research Center, Annual Flower Trial Gardens, and the Perennial Garden at the University Center for the Arts. The CSU Campus Arboretum is an exceptional asset for the community, advancing individual programs and efforts around research and teaching through the overarching structure and prominence of the arboretum, while solidifying a legacy that preserves our urban forest for future generations.

ArbNet’s Arboretum Accreditation Program advances the planting, study, 15 Trees in the summer on the Notable Tree Tourand conservation of trees, recognizing arboreta at various levels of development, capacity, and professionalism and fosters professionalism of arboreta worldwide. No other international program of accreditation exists specific to arboreta. Accreditation is based on self-assessment and documentation of an arboretum’s level of achievement of accreditation standards, including planning, governance, number of species, staff or volunteer support, education and public programming, and tree science research and conservation. Learn more about CSU's ArbNet Accreditation Level III status and the Morton Register. In 2021, ArbNet is celebrating 10 years of bringing arboreta together.

The Campus Arboretum is overseen by the Campus Arboretum Committee, which include representatives from Facilities Management, the Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Colorado State Forest Service through Warner College, CSU Extension, Plant Select, and the City of Fort Collins.

View our CSU Tree Genus Species List.

View our Collections Management Manual.

View our Tree Care Plan.

Tree Campus Higher Education

To be a Tree Campus Higher Education (formerly Tree Campus USA) site, CSU ensures the protection and maintenance of our campus urban forest, reduce hazardous tree risks to public safety, and maintain a sustainable campus forest through tree species diversity and best management practices. The university joins more than 150 American colleges and universities recognized by the program. Specifically, Facilities Management and the Colorado State Forest Service team up to meet the five Tree Campus Higher Education standards: Campus Advisory Committee, Campus Tree Care Plan, Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures, Arbor Day Observance, and Service Learning Project. Throughout each year, the Tree Advisory committee meets to ensure that the Tree Care Plan stays current and addresses new challenges as they arise. Each spring, they host an Arbor Day celebration, which provides students with a hands-on opportunity to learn more about trees and their important role in our environment.

Facilities Management and Colorado State Forest Service planting a tree by Canvas Stadium for the 2019 Arbor Day Event   Volunteers finished planting a tree by Canvas Stadium for the 2019 Arbor Day Event    Tree planted in 2017 Arbor Day Event, located between the Lory Student Center and the Rec Center   Tree Campus USA Arbor Day Event 2017

Tree Campus USA Arbor Day planting in 2017 Volunteers finished planting a tree on the Oval for the first Arbor Day event on campus  CSU's Tree Campus USA Arbor Day event in 2012  Facilities Management and volunteers planting a tree for the 2017 Arbor Day Event

Join us each year for our annual Tree Campus Higher Education Arbor Day planting & Earth Week celebrations! We were virtual for our 2021 celebrations.

This was CSU’s 10th year commemorating Arbor Day as Tree Campus Higher Education participants. This spring also marked 140 years since CSU’s first mass planting of 3,000 trees in 1881! Many are still alive today. The American elms on the Oval are as high as 90 feet tall with roots that exceed their height. The 1881 planting also included a row of hackberry trees extending from Old Main Drive to Laurel Avenue, just east of Spruce Hall. Two of those original 1881 hackberry trees are growing today and are among the largest in Colorado.

 European Hornbeam that was relocated in 2016 to the Heritage ArboretumCSU has been home to many state champions over the years. A champion tree exceeds all others in the state in a combination of height, trunk circumference and canopy spread. The most notable state tree champion at CSU today is a 117-foot-tall Rock elm—the fifth tree from the corner of College and Laurel (pictured below). It was part of the 1892 tree plantings along the College Avenue and Laurel Street frontages.

This European Hornbeam (to the right) was planted in the original Perennial Gardens on the main campus, arriving in 1986 from Schichtel’s Nursery in New York. In 2016, with the construction of Canvas Stadium and associated practice fields, CSU recognized the value and benefits of this hornbeam, relocating it to the Heritage Garden & Arboretum, which has the largest collections of woody plants in the region with over 1,100 different taxa represented. In fact, the hornbeam was moved by the largest tree spade then available in the state of CO.

CSU’s Campus Arboretum has 10,000 trees that make our community more resilient and healthier. They clean our air and water, help manage storm water runoff, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat, sequester and store carbon, reduce noise pollution, and cool buildings and walkways with their shade. But they’re not just function first. They also boost personal and public health, give us places to relax, play, and study outdoors, and add color and beauty to campus.

For the tenth year in a row, Facilities Management Outdoor Services planted trees on campus in honor of Arbor Day. For 2021, three Tulip trees and three Yellowwood were planted on the east side of the Richardson Design Center. Two sycamores were planted on the west side of the "classic" Chemistry Building. Two Princeton Sentry gingko were planted on the berm just east of the Rec Center and south of the area we fondly call "The Trees."

Due to COVID, we could not hold our annual public Arbor Day tree planting event, but as an alternative, the Campus Arboretum Committee shared out fun facts and photos like the ones noted above. We also made a short video that looks back on the legacy of our stewardship over 140 years and highlights our Tree Campus Higher Education designation. In April we launched the Campus Tree Tour of 15 notable trees. Thanks for taking a moment to celebrate Arbor Day and appreciate the value that trees bring to our community!

More resources about trees are also available by visiting the Colorado State Forest Service at Facebook and Twitter or CSU Extension (

 American elms on center sidewalk of the Oval, 1915 The 117 ft. Rock Elm located just north of Rout Hall in the Laurel St parkway  A CSU student enjoying the benefits trees provide, 1978 American elm by the northwest corner of the Natural Resource Research Lab

Trainings about Trees:

Tree Planting
Recorded: Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Instructor: Alison O'Connor, Larimer County Extension
Success with Trees Along the Front Range
Recorded: Friday, April 16, 2021
Instructor: Eric Hammond, Adams County Extension

For more classes like this, visit the CO-Horts Blog to find upcoming and past recorded trainings!

Campus Tree Tour

 CSU Interactive map with arrow point to the Tours tab and a circle highlighting the Campus Tree TourAnnouncing CSU's Notable Tree Tour on Main Campus, a self-guided tour of 15 signature trees including three notable campus tree collections at the Oval, Sherwood Forest, and the Heritage Arboretum. The Campus Arboretum Committee received funding from the President’s Sustainability Commission (PSC) sustainability fund to place 15 interpretive signs by the trees on the tour. The signs were installed in early April 2021. Check out the tour by visiting the CSU interactive map and choosing the Tours tab or click on the map image (right), which will link to the interactive map.

Want a paper map? Download here.

15 Notable Trees on the Tour (summer & winter images of the trees)

Phase 2 of the Notable Tree Tour will include an interactive component, including QR codes that link to brief videos speaking to the featured trees. This portion of the project will be developed and implemented in fall 2021/winter 2022.

Arboretum News & Media

SOURCE - CSU marks 10th straight year of being honored as Tree Campus Higher Education Institution

SOURCE - Emerald Ash Borer on the move along Front Range by CSFS (May 25, 2021)

SOURCE - Celebrate Arbor Day and Earth Week with CSU (April 20, 2021)

FM Weekly Communication - Notable Tree Tour (Jan. 4, 2021)

FM Daily Communication - 150 Trees (April 24, 2020)

HDS Video - 150 Trees (April 24, 2020)

SOURCE - 150 New Trees Celebrate CSU's Sesquicentennial (April 20, 2020)

ALUMLINE - The Oval: Preserving A Living Legacy (April 06, 2020)

SOURCE - CO Woody Plants: An Arboretum in Your Palm (July 12, 2019)

The Collegian - CSU receives 8th Tree Campus USA award at tree planting event (April 21, 2019)

SOURCE - Volunteer tree planting to focus on ‘Right Tree for the Right Place’ April 19 (April 15, 2019)


Special Tree & Plant Collections

Perennial Garden Perennial Garden

In the fall of 2016 the Perennial Teaching, Research, and Demonstration Garden was relocated from the old Plant Environmental Research Center (PERC) to its new home next to the CSU University Center for the Arts on Remington and Pitkin. The Perennial Garden was originally started at the PERC site in 1980 by Dr. Jim Klett and has grown over the decades to approximately 1000 taxa. Three of each taxa were moved to the new location for a total of approximately 3,000 plants. In addition to the 3,000 herbaceous perennials moved, 19 trees were saved and relocated.

Read more about Superior Herbaceous Perennials:

Heritage Arboretum & Garden Pathway at the Heritage Arboretum

The Heritage Arboretum at CSU has the largest collections of woody plants in the region with over 1,100 different taxa represented. The Heritage Gardens showcase the agricultural heritage from six major regions in Colorado. Presently, a computerized method for collection, storage, and retrieval of information on plant performance has been implemented for all the woody plants. New plants are continually being added to and evaluated in the collection.

Read the Heritage Arboretum reports or learn more about woody plant research:

Centre Avenue Arboretum

The main objectives of this area are to determine which woody plants are best suited for growing in the Rocky Mountain area and display these plants for public research and teaching purposes.

Centre Ave ArboretumIt began in 2003 with the need to relocate some trees at the Heritage Arboretum when the Summit Hall dorm was constructed. The trees were moved to the Centre Arboretum site which is approximately 6 acres. The plants at both the Heritage Arboretum and the Centre Arboretum are now part of the overall campus arboretum effort but are still managed by the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Both areas have plants that were donated to the woody plant evaluation program from generous support from members of the Green Industry and other public gardens. Between the two sites, the arboretum at CSU has the largest collections of woody plants in the region with over 1,100 different taxa represented. Each plant is evaluated every two years and the report is available for free and online at New plants are continually being added and evaluated in the collection.

The plants at the Centre Avenue Arboretum are strictly trees while the Heritage Arboretum also includes many shrubs. The other main difference between the two sites is that the Centre Avenue site is organized in straight rows with a drip irrigation system while the Heritage site is planted in a more informal pattern by plant family and is irrigated with hoses and sprinklers. Both areas have each plant labeled with both scientific and common names and the label is usually on the north side unless there is a compelling reason (such as crowded by a nearby plant) to have it on the east or west. Both sites are free and open to the public during daylight hours.

Annual Flower Trial Garden Annual Flower Trial Garden

The outdoor display and test areas at the Annual Flower Trial Garden were established to allow students, researchers, industry representatives, homeowners and extension personnel to learn, teach and evaluate through horticultural research and demonstration projects conducted in the unique environmental conditions of the Rocky Mountain/High Plains region.

Read more about the Flower Trial Gardens:

The Oval

The Oval elm collection dating from 1881, is preserved for the long-term benefit of university and has continuing research value in finding efficacious treatments for evolving exotic pests of elm. The Heritage Garden & Arboretum Collection is 5.5 acres and was established over thirty years ago. It has the largest collections of woody plants in the region with over 1,100 different taxa represented.

Read about the Oval's history: The Oval - Fun Facts & History

SOURCE - Oval Trees 101: Do you know their history? (October 18, 2016)

The Oval in winter    The Oval in the summer   The Oval in the fall   The Oval in the fog - 1990

CSU is a proud member of the American Public Gardens Association, ArbNet, and Tree Campus Higher Education.

For more information about the Campus Arboretum or Tree Campus Higher Education, please contact Fred Haberecht at 970-491-0162.

To locate the CSU main campus or get directions, view the CSU interactive map.

American Public Gardens Association Proud Member Logo       ArbNet Level III    "Tree Campus Higher Education - An Arbor Day Foundation Program" Logo