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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Washington, DC

Beltsville, Maryland; McMinnville, Tennessee

Dr. Colien Hefferan, Director
Dr. Ramon Jordan, Interim Associate Director
Debbie Cicala, Administrative Manager
Dr. Margaret Pooler, Research Leader, Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit
Mr. Scott Aker, Unit Leader, Gardens
Ms. Nancy Luria, Unit Leader, Education and Visitor Services

5 different pictures from the Arboretum

Established in 1927 by an Act of Congress.  The Arboretum is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural  Research Service. 


To serve the public need for scientific research, education, and gardens that conserve and showcase plants to enhance the environment.


Northeast Washington, D.C., with entrances on New York Avenue and R Street.  There are research locations in Washington, D.C.; Beltsville, Maryland; and McMinnville, Tennessee. 


446 acres with 9.5 miles of winding roadways. 

Annual Visitation

500,000 to 600,000 


Federal Appropriation  FY 11: $12,400,000 

Support Organizations

Horticultural Research Institute, Friends of the National Arboretum, Garden Club of America, The Herb Society of America, National Bonsai Foundation, National Capital Orchid Society, National Garden Clubs, Inc., The National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc., Society of American Florists, and Woman’s National Farm & Garden Association.




Over 140, working in all areas of the Arboretum. 


Internship positions are in horticulture, research, education, facilities management, and public garden administration and are supported by the Friends of the National Arboretum (FONA), a 501(c) nonprofit organization, as well as by other non-profit organizations, and privately donated funds. 


Wide-ranging basic and developmental research on trees, shrubs, turf, and floral plants. Development of new technologies for the floral and nursery industries. Development of plants with superior characteristics through a program of testing and genetic improvement. Development of new methods of pest and disease detection and control. Taxonomy and nomenclature of ornamental plants and their wild relatives. Collection and preservation of plant germplasm with ornamental potential.


Single-genus groupings include: holly, crabapple, azalea, daffodil, magnolia, boxwood, daylily, peony, dogwood, and maple. Major garden features include: aquatic plants, the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum, the Asian Collections, the Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection, the National Grove of State Trees, the Friendship Garden, Fern Valley, the National Capitol Columns, and the National Herb Garden. 


Public education programs, including symposia, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations; plant, flower, and art exhibitions; interpretive brochures and signs; group tours; public relations. 


Over 130 scientific articles in professional and trade journals in the last 3 years. Various program aids for visitors. Eight publications in the National Arboretum Contribution series.

Plant Introductions

Over 650 official plant releases.  Eight patents and two EPA biopesticide registrations over the last 5 years. 

Cooperative Programs

Iowa State University, Michigan State University, North Carolina State University, Oregon State University, Tennessee State University, University of California, University of Florida, University of Maine, University of Maryland, University of Missouri, University of Tennessee, University of Wisconsin, and Holden Arboretum, Mentor, Ohio.

International Cooperative Programs

Austria, Israel, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, and Ukraine.


Established around 1900 as the Economic Botany Herbarium of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is a permanent reference collection of dried plant specimens necessary to taxonomic studies relating to agriculture, medicine, science, and education--fields where documentation and correct identification of plants is essential. This collection serves as a descriptive index for the identification and verification of plants. Among the 650,000+ specimens are extensive collections of Willow (Salix), Sedge (Carex), Oak (Quercus), Cherries (Prunus), Viburnum, Holly (Ilex), Daylily (Hemerocallis), Daffodils (Narcissus), and Rhododendron. 


10,000 volumes and approximately 90 publications concentrating in botanical literature. Affiliated with the National Agricultural Library.


Last Modified: 12/5/2011
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