Memorial Arboretum and Horticulture

Kousa Dogwood Trees


Welcome to the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Arboretum.

The hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery have long been recognized as a place of honor for those who have served our nation.

Rolling green hills, majestic trees and a diverse collection of ornamental plants serve as the backdrop to this national shrine.

The cemetery’s 624 acres are a unique blend of formal and informal landscapes, dotted with over 8,500 native and exotic trees. Intimate gardens enhance the beauty and sense of peace.

To commemorate its 150th anniversary, this historic landscape has been established as the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Arboretum. The Arboretum serves as a living memorial to those that have served our nation and connects visitors to the rich tapestry of the cemetery's living history and natural beauty.

We are honored to preserve and interpret this iconic landscape for generations to come.

We invite you to explore the Memorial Arboretum.

Spring Highlight

Cercis canadensis, Eastern Redbud

Redbud Tree

When you think of April in the Washington, D.C. area, you often think of the cherry trees surrounding the tidal basin. While an amazing sight to see, there are native, flowering trees, like the eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) that also come alive during the month of April.

In early April, one just needs to drive through Arlington National Cemetery to see redbuds scattered throughout the cemetery, with the largest and oldest trees located in Sections 13 and 34. It’s hard to miss the pink-purple flower buds bursting directly out of the stems and bark (as opposed to the tip of the stem); extremely uncommon in trees.

After flowering for about two weeks, the five-inch wide, glossy, heart- shaped leaves take center stage. Shiny, purple leaves emerge in spring time, but turn and stay green throughout the summer.

If those characteristics aren’t enough identification hints, look for the two to three inch long, reddish green pods. That’s pod, as in legume, as in pea. Redbuds are in the Fabaceae (legume) family. By winter, just as the leaves change color, so do the pods. They turn black and hang from the trees before dropping to the ground in late winter.

The cemetery is home to roughly 165 Cercis canadensis trees. But, don’t be surprised to see two white flowering varieties; C. canadensis var Alba and C. canadensis Texas White. The cemetery also has 24 Chinese redbud (C. chinenses) trees. Native to central China, the Chinese redbud grows to 10 feet tall, where the native C. canadensis, in its natural habitat can grow up to 30 feet tall. Look for C. ‘Covey’, a dwarf, weeping redbud adorning the top of the retaining wall in Section 7a.

Redbud Blooms on Bark

Landscaping with Cercis canadensis:

Redbuds are ideal trees for small landscapes and as understory trees in partly shady naturalistic landscapes and woodland settings.

They also grow well in full sun, but keep them well watered during the first year of establishment and in times of extreme drought. Be careful to keep lawn mowers away from the easily injured bark. Once stressed by an injury, redbuds are a host to all sorts of diseases and insects.

Eastern redbuds are great pollinator plants; our native bees love them.

They are native from New Jersey to northern Florida, west to Missouri, Texas and northern Mexico.

Sustainable Practices

Arlington National Cemetery strives to achieve diversity in all of our tree plantings and landscape plantings. Arlington's earth-friendly approach to landscaping includes:

Sustainable Landscaping

Water-wise Techniques

Arlington has adopted a water-wise or Xeriscaping approach using ornamental grasses and other native plants that require less water and fertilizer.

Sustainable Landscaping

Plants that Help Wildlife

Arlington has incorporated more native plants that provide food
and shelter to attract and sustain insects and birds.

Sustainable Landscaping


Arlington uses different species in its landscape and tree plantings to achieve diversity (rather than monocultures) in order to prevent species from being wiped out in the event of disease.


Arlington National Cemetery’s horticulture division recently installed 297 tree labels on many of the cemetery’s notable trees, including its State Champions Yellowwood and Empress trees located in sections 23 and 46, the 36 historic trees that commemorate Medal of Honor recipients; and other specimens along highly visited routes.

The Memorial Arboretum is preserving and interpreting the collection of trees and ornamental plants that serve as a backdrop to this National Shrine. The tree labels are a significant part of being recognized as an arboretum.

The labels help visitors identify the trees as they explore the grounds of the cemetery. The information on the labels includes the scientific name, common name, family and native range of the tree. The labels for the Medal of Honor Medal of Honor Memorial Trees trees also include an identification number that corresponds to the listing located on Arlington’s website.

Tree Label Diagram

The scientific name is universal and allows horticulturists, naturalists, arborists, botanists and other scientists from around the world to have a standardized name for a tree. The first part of the name is the genus and the second part of the name is called the specific epithet. The two names together comprise the species name. Sometimes the name includes a third part which indicates that the tree is a subspecies, variety or cultivar of the species. If the name includes an “x” between the genus and species name, this indicates that the tree is a hybrid between two species. When the genus name is preceded by an “X,” this indicates that the tree is a hybrid or cross between two genera.

The common name is what the tree is known as locally. Common names can be confusing, because the same tree may have different common names in different parts of the world, country or state. A good example is for the black gum tree. This tree is also known as tupelo, black tupelo or sour gum. To avoid any confusion, the use of the scientific name, Nyssa sylvatica, allows scientists from all over the world be “on the same page,” or “up the right tree,” so to speak.

The family name goes one step further in classifying the type of tree. It is useful to understand how different species are related to each other.

The approximate native range is also included. Although a large portion of the trees at the cemetery are native trees, many exotic or non-native trees complement the landscape.


Tour Group

Arlington National Cemetery’s Horticulture Division hosts guided tours of the grounds. The tours include turf and grounds maintenance, landscaping techniques, the urban forestry program, including Arlington’s state champion trees.

Upcoming Tours

  • "Tree and Horticulture Tour" with Steve Van Hoven - Friday, April 25, 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • "Turf Management at ANC" with Ed Tucker - Friday, June 6, 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
  • "Tree and Horticulture Tour" with Steve Van Hoven - Friday, June 20, 8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
  • "Arlington National Cemetery Gardens" with Kelly Wilson - Friday, July 18, 8:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.