University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Oak Ridge Forest Cumberland Forest Highland Rim Forest Arboretum


There is always something in bloom at the Arboretum! Use our Plants Library to plan a photo shoot or to choose one of the trails to walk. Learn more about the plants at the Arboretum by visiting our Previously Featured Plants list and our Special Seasonal Featured Plants page.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo Trees Ginkgo (or Maidenhair Tree) puts on its spectacular fall display toward the end of October or early November. For a short period its leaves turn bright yellow, and then almost overnight, they fall to the ground creating a conspicuous leaf shadow under the tree’s spreading branches. Two beautiful Ginkgo trees can be seen across the Arboretum entrance road from the Visitors’ Center, and another is located near the end of Marsh Road as it turns up to the Forest Loop Roads.

Ginkgo is a Gymnosperm (naked seed) — its developing ovules and seeds are not enclosed in an ovary. Its fan-shaped leaves resemble those of Maidenhair Fern (hence its common name) and have dichotomous (forked) venation. Ginkgo is well-represented in the fossil record. For thousands of years it only survived in temple gardens in China, and no wild populations are known to exist. The tree is often referred to as a living fossil.

Ginkgo Leaves Ginkgo is dioecious (i.e., meaning two houses) with separate male and female trees. The male trees are most commonly planted because the female trees produce fruits with a strong, unpleasant odor. Ginkgos are hardy trees that are planted in many parts of the U.S. and elsewhere. Extracts from Ginkgo leaves have been used for medicinal purposes for many years.

Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)

Persimmon Tree Persimmon Fruit Persimmon is a moderately sized tree growing to 60 feet in height and 2 feet in diameter. It is the most northern member of the Ebony plant family — other members of the family are tropical or subtropical. A number of Persimmon trees are found along Arboretum Drive and on the edge of the Shade Tree Collection. In September/October, these trees may be loaded with orange fruits that become deep purple as they age.

Persimmon Bark Persimmon Fruit Persimmons are dioecious — meaning that male and female flowers are found on separate trees. The leaves and fruits of the tree are astringent, and have been described as puckery. However, when mature, the fruits lose their astringent tannins and become sweet and delicious. The genus name Diospyros can be translated from the Greek as "food for the gods."

Persimmon is native to the Eastern U.S. — New England to Florida, west to Texas, Iowa, and Kansas. The bark is dark brown to black and is deeply divided into small blocks. The dense wood has been used for such purposes as golf club heads and billiard cues.

Fall Wildflowers 2014

Fall Wildflowers 2014

Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra)

Pignut Hickory Leaves Pignut Hickory Nut Pignut Hickory Bark
Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra) is one of several hickory species found in our Arboretum forests. It is found throughout the Eastern U.S. and north into southern Ontario. It is one of the most common hickories in the Appalachians. The common name was given by early settlers because the abundant nuts provided food for free-ranging hogs. It’s alternate, compound leaves typically have 5 (occasionally 7) glabrous leaflets (i.e., without hairs) that are finely toothed. The pear-shaped to ovoid fruits are about 1" in diameter, with thin husks and nuts that are not ribbed. A distinctive feature of the fruit is that when mature, the husk only splits about half-way along the fruit axis. The bark is relatively tight, has vertically oriented ridges that are rounded, and may be flaky. The nuts, which are high in crude fat and have moderate content of proteins, calcium and phosphorus, are an important food for a variety of mammals, such as squirrels, chipmunks, and black bear, as well as some birds such as turkeys, woodpeckers, pheasants and several songbirds. The strong, hard, tough wood is used for making tool handles, fence posts, sporting goods, agricultural implements, and as fuel wood. Early settlers used thin splits of the wood to make brooms.

View a list of Previously Featured Plants

Please help us preserve our natural heritage!
No collecting of plant materials is permitted at the UT Arboretum.

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: