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Ohio Wesleyan’s Historic, Unique Arboretum to Open for Public Tours Oct. 24

October 12, 2009

This Bald Cypress tree near the Sulphur Spring at Phillips Hall dates back to the late 1800s.
Photo by Linda O’Horo
DELAWARE, OH – For the first time in recent history, the general public is invited to participate in free tours of the Jane Decker Arboretum at Ohio Wesleyan University. Used for biological study, the arboretum dates back to the 1860s, when a local pastor began planting native and foreign trees on the 200-acre Ohio Wesleyan campus.

Students from the OWU Botany-Microbiology Department will conduct free one-hour “Tree Trek” tours for the public at 10 a.m. Oct. 24. Participants should meet at the University Hall plaza, 61 S. Sandusky St., Delaware (located between University and Slocum halls.)

Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes. Although the arboretum covers the entire Ohio Wesleyan campus, the majority of the trees on the tour are located between South Sandusky and Henry streets. The public Tree Trek tours will encompass this section of the arboretum, with participants receiving instructions for self-guided tours of the Monnett Garden area between Austin Manor and Sanborn Hall on the west side of campus.

The arboretum is a living laboratory used regularly by students and faculty, said David Johnson, Ph.D., chair of the Ohio Wesleyan Botany-Microbiology Department.

“My colleagues and I regularly examine the arboretum trees with our students,” Johnson said. “We study tree identification, the microscopic structure and function of tree leaves, how insects such as the emerald ash borer attack and damage trees, and we estimate the amount of carbon that can be stored in the woody tissues of trees.”

Members of the public also are invited to take a self-guided tour of the arboretum at their convenience. Free printed “Tree Trek” guides are available for general use, with a second version for children. “Tree Trek” guides are available by contacting David Johnson at dmjohnso@owu.edu or Nancy Murray at namurray@owu.edu, or by calling (740) 368-3505.

In 1988, the Ohio Wesleyan arboretum became the Jane Decker Arboretum, named in memory of a botany professor who conveyed her love of plants and trees during her 20 years teaching on campus. The arboretum now hosts 105 species of trees and woody plants from various areas of the world.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 45 states and 39 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.