Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens 1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225  

Volunteer Help

Due to hurricane Irma, the Arboretum is in need of extra volunteer help. There is no need to wait for the Saturday volunteer workdays. If people could bring brooms, rakes, or gas powered blowers and blow off boardwalks and bridges on the open trails. All Jones Creek Bridges are on closed parts of trails so please don’t go on closed trails.

On trails please rake mess off to the side of trail and toss in the bushes. Please don’t rake all leaves off because they keep soil from eroding. All open trails need raking; please do not go on closed trails because they either have fallen trees that need cutting or washed out bridges that need resetting.

In garden area, rake and pile messes on Lake Loop to the edge of road (not on grass or in plant beds). Please try to rake the leaves and small branches and not the rocks. Pick up any branches and limbs you can reach from garden trails and paths or leaves and put in piles at edge of Lake Loop. Don’t go in plant beds because there are lots of newly planted specimens that could be stepped on. Trained garden volunteers will deal with plant beds. Rake excess debris in picnic and lawn areas into piles that we can get to easily with truck and trailer (again not every leaf just excess mess). Leave big branches that need sawing for trained volunteers.

Thank you to all of those able to help!


Let Nature Challenge You

The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre urban woodland full of trails for you to explore and enjoy.

From the trailhead next to the parking lot, a stabilized walkway encircles a beautiful two-acre lake. This trail gently descends about 25 feet to the foot of the lake and then returns up a gentle slope on the opposite side to the trailhead. Interpretive signs and over 100 labeled plants enhance the loop.

In addition, over three miles of rustic hiking trails wind quietly through a series of distinct ecological habitats. Along the trails, benches invite you either to pause and enjoy the view or to get in a good stretch during a vigorous walk.

The Arboretum is developed and managed by the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens, Inc., a non-profit entity that leases the land from the City. Except for special events, there is no admission fee. $3 non-member visitor donation requested to help pay operations.


Open to the public 7 days a week from 8 AM to 5 PM.

NOTE : Starting March 14,  extended hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 8 AM – 7 PM EXTENDED HOURS END September 7

Entry gates are locked promptly at closing so plan your visit so that you exit the Arboretum prior to closing.

ADA – For accommodation please contact info@jacksonvillearboretum.org


News – September 2017


Prickly Pears – The Genus Opuntia

Old Mexico prickly pear, a spineless selection of Opuntia gomei
Photo by Chuck Hubbuch

Opuntia is a large group (genus) of about 300 cactus species that ranges from Canada through much of South America. Although we tend to think of cacti as desert plants, Florida has four native species, three of which are native to Jacksonville. Several more are cultivated here. Increasingly, botanists are dividing the genus into smaller groups so you will see names like Cylindropuntia, Nopalea and Grusonia applied to former members of this genus.

The typical Opuntia has stems in the shape of flattened pads. These are the types commonly called prickly pears. The pads are skinned, sliced and cooked in some parts of their range. In Mexico, cooked Opuntia pads are known as nopales. The fruits of many species are edible and some are very tasty. Opuntia ficus-indica is a tree-like species that produces a sweet fruit with a flavor and texture that reminds me of watermelon. In season, you may find these in your local markets.

Another tree-like species, Opuntia cochinilifera, was once very important in the production of a cloth dye. A small scale insect fed on this plant. When these insects were scraped off, dried and ground, they produced a brilliant red to purple dye. Today, cochineal dye is an approved safe food coloring and finds its way into candies, drinks and lipstick. Sap from pressed pads has been used strengthen the adobe in home construction and is being investigated for modern applications. Some of the species have traditional medicinal uses and some are used as hedges and fences.

These cacti are important as food and homes for wildlife and for erosion control. A few have become weeds after being introduced to other countries such as Australia and South Africa.

The eastern prickly pear, Opuntia humifusa, can be found growing naturally at the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens. The native shellmound prickly pear, Opuntia stricta, is planted in the parking lot. Two species from the southwest may be found in the parking lot planting, also. They are Opuntia cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’ and Opuntia gomei ‘Old Mexico’.

Trail News

Photos: Uncredited

Last work day the volunteers were busy weeding along the trails to keep the arboretum beautiful. Everyone is invited to garden workdays on the second Saturday of each month. Come weed and learn!

Kids Tour of the Arboretum

This tour is designed to teach kids the relationship between people and the environment.

The group will be taken around the arboretum and shown what plants can be used for purposes such as food, medicine, fibers, culture, and environmental factors. Kids will learn that plants are essential to life as we know it.

This free tour is designed for kids roughly ages 7-12 and will begin the second Saturday of September. From there, it will be held every second Saturday of the month. It will begin at 10:00 a.m. at the picnic area and will continue until 11:00 a.m.

This program will not only get the kids outside and letting out some energy, but it will also teach them facts and skills they can take to their families and schools.

Please email arboretum4kids@gmail.com as spots are limited.

McKenna Korzeniewski is a senior at UNF, double majoring in Global Environmental Studies and ReligiousStudies. She has been working in horticulture since 2010. She currently interns at the Jacksonville Arboretum and is the Peace Corps Ambassador for UNF. McKenna recently studied abroad at Chiang Mai University in Thailand and hopes to go into agriculture education in the future.

Discovering Nature Nearby

Photo: Uncredited

Dr. Natasha Vanderhoff, Jacksonville University Associate Professor of Biology and Marine Science, will present a walking lecture on birds on September 16, 2017. This free lecture, open to the public, is part of the Discovering Nature Nearby series which is through a grant from TD Bank, Rayonier Advanced Materials and Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens.

Dr. Vanderhoff’s talk will include facts about bird migration and the importance of stopover sites for refueling. Brochures about migration will be available. Come enjoy a relaxed talk and walk in the beautiful Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens.

The program begins at 9:30 in the picnic area. There will also be a hands-on component after the walk to make nature journals and draw bird images. Begin journaling and recording your bird list by writing, photographing, drawing, painting or by electronic means.

Interpretive Plant Series

Starting in October on every first Saturday Chuck Hubbuch will be leading a plant clinic. This clinic is geared for adults but children are welcome. Chuck Hubbuch is acting curator of the Jacksonville Arboretum.

Get the Flyer here

Nature at Night

Photo: Uncredited

Become a member now and you can attend this fun event for Volunteers and Members ONLY.
Roast Hot Dogs, S’mores, Corn Hole, Guided night time Tours and Scavengers Hunt for the kids.

Tribute Benches

Photo: Uncredited

“A tribute bench at Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens provides not only a place for visitors to rest and reflect, but also represents a tangible gift that can be enjoyed by all while paying tribute to the honoree.,” said Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens Board Chairman Lawrence C. Gierum. “Purchasing a tribute bench allows you to honor those of your choosing in a meaningful way, and your generosity will add yet another amenity that will enhance the visitor experience at our venue for years to come.”

As a capital improvement, each bench donation is 100 percent tax deductible. A volunteer installer will have the bench in place four-to-six weeks after the order is made, with acknowledgment letters sent to the donor and the honoree or their family.

Honorees are recognized by name with a custom 2-by-8-inch brass plate embedded on each bench. Each Tribute Bench plaque has a standard of two lines, up to 25 characters per line, which includes spaces. A third line of text can be added for an additional $2.

Two styles of benches are available: a bench with arms and back for $2,000, or a slab-style bench for $1,500.

Residents and supporters of the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens can now purchase a tribute bench to honor friends and family in a meaningful way and help the nonprofit agency raise operating funds at the same time.

For more information or to order a tribute bench, visit our bench dedication page.

In Memory of Willis

Lawrence C. Gierum, an attorney with Driver, McAfee, Peek & Hawthorne, P.L. who held the position of president-elect on the Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens Board of Directors, was unanimously voted in as board president with the unexpected passing of previous board president Willis Jones in late May.

“I’m honored to lead this group of board members, but wish it hadn’t happened under these circumstances,” said Gierum, who has served as a board member since 2014. “Willis was not only a great board president, but also a very good friend and colleague. We’ll all miss the kindness, humor and professionalism Willis brought to the Arboretum Board, both as a board member and while serving as the board’s president over the last two years.”

A sales director with Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits (formerly Southern Wine and Spirits), where he worked for 36 years, Jones represented his company and assisted in providing corporate sponsorship for many well-known fundraising events in Jacksonville and throughout Florida. Charities included the Good Guy and Good Girls Invitational, Charity for Research for Childhood Cancer, Gator Bowl Association, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Defending Freedom Warrior Weekend, St. Vincent’s Health Care Benefits, Children’s Home Society, Delicious Destination, The Red Rose Ball, the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund, the Cummer Museum Ball and Gala and the Northeast Florida’s March of Dimes Signature Chef’s Event.

Upon hearing of Willis’s passing, board member Martha Mazza wrote a poem in his honor

Willis, an honest, kind-hearted man
Who gave respect and honor
To anyone who crossed his path,
Thinking of others
More than himself,
He listened well
To what others had to say,
Displaying friendship
With action,
He carried himself
With a meekness inviting,
Allowing one
To be himself around him,
He had a dynamic work ethic
Willing to do whatever was needed
All for integrity and ethics sake,

During his tenure on the Arboretum Board, Jones also created the nonprofit’s annual signature event held in October – the ArboEATum Wine in the Woods – featuring many of the best restaurants, wine distributors and caterers in Northeast Florida.

“We plan to continue on the ArborEATum wine and food fundraising event that Willis created as our primary fundraiser,” he said. “We’ve set the date for this year’s event for Saturday, Nov. 4 and nearly all the restaurants are returning this year – along with the involvement of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits.”

Show the World You Love the Arboretum

Show the world you love us, by posting your Arboretum photographs at #jacksonvillearboretum and Facebook www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleArboretumGardens . We appreciate it!




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