What is an Arboretum?
An arboretum is a place where trees and other plants are grown and studied. The word “arboretum” comes from the Latin word “arbor,” meaning “tree.”
The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens
The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre property with an interesting history. From about 1944 to 1961, the Humphries Gold Mining Company operated strip mines in this area of Jacksonville. Despite its name, Humphries did not mine for gold here but for minerals to make titanium. These mining activities severely impacted soils and vegetation in parts of the Jacksonville Arboretum, but these areas are recovering. In the early 1970s as a condition to an EPA Grant for building the Arlington East treatment facility, the City of Jacksonville purchased the property as a passive recreation and open space buffer around the treatment plant. For the next 30 years, however, the property went unused and was sometimes abused by illegal dumping.
In 2004, a group of citizens began discussions with the City to lease the property for recreational use as an arboretum. The lease was worked out, and the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens officially opened to the public in November 2008. At the time the Arboretum opened, there was a paved parking area, the Lake Loop, Jones Creek and Ravine trails. All of the trails, benches, board walks, and picnic tables in the Arboretum were built by volunteers from the community.
Cultivating a unique environment for recreation, education and inspiration.
- Conservation: To provide stewardship of the Arboretum lands by protecting, sustaining, and enhancing biological diversity by means of large tracts of open-space. The Arboretum also provides leadership locally and beyond in conservation matters, such as the eradication of invasive species, water conservation, and the responsible use of chemicals.
- Teaching: To provide an outdoor laboratory for use by college faculty and students in Botany, Zoology, Biology, Environmental Studies, and other departments. In both teaching and research the Arboretum is a unique and valuable academic resource and support facility.
- Research: To support and conduct research in a broad range of subjects including ecology, field biology, conservation, and natural history. Arboretum research has and continues to emphasize useful long-term studies.
- Collection: To maintain, develop, and interpret well-documented plant collections for teaching, research, and public education and enjoyment.
- Public Education: To provide programs and publications about conservation, horticulture, gardening, botany, and natural history which work to enhance public understanding of the natural world and foster an appreciation of the Arboretum’s mission.
- Recreation: To provide a place where people from the community may enjoy passive recreation and where they may come to learn, reflect, and renew themselves through contact with the natural world. By all the elements of the Arboretum’s mission, the Arboretum enhances the quality of life both for northeast Florida and the residents of the community.
In 2010, the Jacksonville Arboretum adopted a Resource Management Plan to guide its activities and management of the property.
Download your own copy of our Resource Management Plan (pdf) by clicking on the link.
Some of the amenities planned for the future include: Additional trails, trail stabilization, a restroom, irrigation and additional plantings near Lake Ray, one or more shelters, one or more decks over scenic overlooks, enhancement and stabilization of the sand pit area, and a future visitors center.
Board of Directors
Merrill Varn, Chairman
Willis O. Jones, Jr., Vice Chair
Michelle Hendryx, Corporate Secretary
Jane E. Pope, Treasurer
E. Zimmermann Boulos
Murray F. “Lad” Hawkins
Charles E. “Chuck” Hubbuch
Lawrence C. Gierum
Melinda P. Simmons, Ph.D