Campus Arboretum Committee Overview

The Campus Arboretum is overseen by the Campus Arboretum Committee, which includes representatives from Facilities Management, the Department of Horticulture & Landscape ArchitectureCSU ExtensionPlant Select, and the City of Fort Collins Dept of Forestry. The Colorado State Forest Service joins in during Tree Campus Higher Education activities.

View our CSU Tree Genus Species List.
View our Collections Management Manual.
View our Tree Care Plan.


ArbNet Level III Arboretum

The 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, and 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.


Tree Campus Higher Education

Tree Campus Arbor Day Planting - shows students and volunteers planting trees. Friday, April 19, 12-1pm, student volunteers and community welcome, location on main campus: TBA, Trees are the answer, www.fm.colostate.edu/arboretum.

We were thrilled to have so many volunteers who came out to plant trees with us last year. This is our 14th consecutive arbor day planting, and our 13th year being acknowledged as a Tree Campus Higher Education institution. On April 19, 2024 from 12-1 we will gather again to celebrate Colorado and National Arbor Day! Location on main campus will be announced in late March.

To be a Tree Campus Higher Education (formerly Tree Campus USA) site, CSU ensures the protection and maintenance of our campus urban forest, reduces hazardous tree risks to public safety, and maintains 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.

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. Thanks for taking a moment to celebrate Arbor Day and appreciate the value that trees bring to our community!

More tree resources available by visiting the Colorado State Forest Service at Facebook and Twitter or CSU Extension (facebook.com/extensioncolorado).


Trainings/Videos about Trees:

Terrific Trees for the Front Range
Friday, May 3, 12pm-1pm MT
Instructor: Eric Hammond, CSU Extension in Adams County
Registration required

All About Trees (2023)
Recorded: Friday, May 5, 2023
Instructor: Eric Hammond, Adams County Extension
Recording: https://youtu.be/TgTNT3Uwrxc

Celebrate Trees for Arbor Day! (2022)
Recorded: Friday, April 15, 2022
Instructors: Cassey Anderson, Eric Hammond, Amy Lentz, Lisa Mason, and Alison O’Connor, CSU Extension
Recording: https://youtu.be/jXNfIOxGuUA

Tree Planting (2021)
Recorded: Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Instructor: Alison O’Connor, Larimer County Extension
Class recording: https://youtu.be/n_Ek0CLJ7mI

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


Campus Tree Tour

CSU’s Notable Tree Tour on Main Campus is a self-guided tour of 15 signature trees including three notable campus tree collections at the Oval, Sherwood Forest, and the Heritage Arboretum. In 2021 the Campus Arboretum Committee received funding from the President’s Sustainability Commission sustainability fund to place 15 interpretive signs by the trees on the tour. Check out the tour by visiting the CSU interactive map and choosing the Tours tab. Want a paper map? Download here. View 15 Notable Trees on the Tour (summer & winter images of the trees).

City of Fort Collins has a self-guided tree tour too – check it out here!

15 Notable trees on the tour in the summer time

Special Tree & Plant Collections

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.

Heritage Arboretum & Garden

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. 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: http://woodyplants.colostate.edu/

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.

It 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 http://woodyplants.colostate.edu/. 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 

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: http://www.flowertrials.colostate.edu/

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.

Read about the Oval’s history: The Oval – Fun Facts & History

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


Arboretum News & Media

CSFS News – CSU Recognized as Tree Campus-Higher Education for 12th Consecutive Year (April 27, 2023)

SOURCE – Literally just 46 facts about CSU’s trees (April 19, 2022)

SOURCE – CSU community to plant 12 trees in celebration of Arbor Day (April 11, 2022)

SOURCE – CSU marks 10th straight year of being honored as Tree Campus Higher Education Institution (Sept 22, 2021)

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)

SOURCE – Campus community helps fund tree planting event (April 20, 2015)

SOURCE – Favorite Tree Campus USA (Nov. 03, 2014)

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 Julia Innes at 970-420-6170.

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

Oval Summer
The Colorado State University Oval and Administration Building in the fall
Spring snow on the Oval.
Foggy 1990
American Public Garden Association Proud Member Logo
ArbNet Level 3 Accredited Arboretum Logo
Tree Campus Higher Education Logo