Memorial Arboretum and Horticulture


Arlington National Cemetery's horticulture division has installed 297 tree labels on many of the cemetery's notable trees, including its Virginia 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. Labels will also be added in the future for its Virginia State Champion Sawtooth Oak in section 12 and its Virginia State Co-Champion Pin Oak in section 35. These two trees were designated as champions in August 2015.

The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and the Morton Arboretum awarded the Arlington National Cemetery Arboretum with a Level II accreditation in April 2015 and the tree labels were a significant part of that recognition. By achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens, Arlington National Cemetery Arboretum is now recognized as an accredited arboretum in The Morton Register of Arboreta.

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 website listing.

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.