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

Daffodils (Narcissus spp.)

Daffodil Bed As February transitions into March, the slope next to the Arboretum's entrance road will provide a beautiful display of Daffodil blooms. These plants were donated to the Arboretum several years ago by Marie Compare, who was the leading light behind the planting of more than 2 million Daffodils along the Pellissippi Parkway. Volunteers from the UT Arboretum Society planted the bulbs. Daffodils belong to the Amaryllis plant family (Amaryllidaceae) and are native to southern Europe, the middle East, and North Africa. It is not unusual to find these flowers around old farms and home sites in Tennessee.

Daffodil Daffodil All Daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus - as many as 40 Daffodil species are known, and over 13,000 hybrids have been recognized. Narcissus flowers have a six-parted perianth composed of 3 sepals and three petals. A distinguishing feature of these flowers is a central corona (or cup) which surrounds the stamens and pistil. The length, shape, and color of the corona is one of the characteristics used to differentiate species and hybrids from one another.

Daffodil Daffodil Jonquils (Narcissus jonquilla) are a type of Narcissus distinguished from other Daffodil species by having clusters of 2 or more small yellow flowers and cylindrical leaves. Other Daffodil species have single flowers and flattened leaves.

Return to Wildflowers Table

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

Dawn Redwood - Summer Dawn Redwood - Fall Dawn Redwood is a deciduous conifer with flat, needle-like leaves that turn a copper-colored brown in November. A specimen of this tree, planted in 1965, can be seen in the Arboretum’s Central China Collection near the end of Marsh Road. Dawn Redwood is related to Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) of the southeastern U.S. and to California’s Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum).

Dawn Redwood Leaves In the early 1940s, a Chinese paleobotantist recognized that fossils initially thought to belong to the genus Sequoia, should be reassigned to a new genus, Metasequoia. In 1945, living individuals of Metasequoia glyptostroboides were found in the Sichuan Province of China. Extensive field surveys in the late 1940s found this “living fossil” present in limited populations in both Sichuan Province and neighboring Hubei Province. Propagation of seeds and cuttings at arboreta in the U.S. and elsewhere resulted in Dawn Redwood becoming available for planting. Although Dawn Redwood does not have wide-spread commercial value, its lumber is similar to that of Coastal Redwood and has been used to make furniture as well as pulp for making plyboard and composite materials.

Dawn Redwood Pollen Cones Dawn Redwood Trunk Metasequoia is a fast growing tree — some of the oldest U.S. trees (planted in 1948) have attained diameters of over 1 meter. Dawn Redwood can be distinguished from Bald Cypress by several characteristics — the buds develop on the underside of the branches not along the tops; the leaves are opposite, not alternate; the base of the trunk is fluted and buttressed; and the branches have rounded depressions below their junction with the trunk. The light brown pollen cones are borne on long stalks appearing in early spring; the inconspicuous female cones are borne singly.

Return to Tree Table

Daylilies (Heremocallis species)

Daylily 1 Daylily 2 Daylily 3
UT Arboretum Society volunteers planted approximately 50 Daylily cultivars adjacent to the Arboretum parking lot in the spring of 2013. These plants, which begin blooming in early June, were donated by Peter Shea from his extensive garden.

Daylily 4 Daylily 5 Daylilies, native to China, Korea, and Japan, were imported to Europe as early as the 16th Century. Thousands of named cultivars have been developed that differ in such features as flower color and shape, or time and season of blooming. Clumps of linear, grass-like leaves give rise to individual, leafless stalks usually bearing several flower buds. Each flower has three petals and three sepals which resemble each other (collectively called tepals). For most cultivars, the flowers open one at a time and last a single day — this trait is reflected in the common name Daylily and the scientific name Heremocallis (from the Greek meaning “beauty for a day”). Daylilies thrive in many different climatic zones and habitats. Although the flowers are similar to those of true Lilies, Daylilies belong to a separate plant family, the Xanthorrhoeaceae.

Return to Wildflowers Table

Deciduous Hollies

'Winterberry' Holly 'Winterberry' (Ilex verticillata) is one of several deciduous hollies present in the Arboretums Marsh Area. These are part of the Elmore Holly Collection which is described in detail - including a full list of the collection and a site map.

Although one usually thinks of hollies as being evergreen, a variety of hollies lose their leaves each fall and provide a display of bright colored fruits at this time of year. 'Winterberry' is one of three native deciduous hollies found in East Tennessee - the others being Carolina Holly (Ilex ambigua v. amigua) and Mountain Holly (Ilex ambigua v. montana). Many culivars and hybrids using Winterberry have been developed including the four examples shown below that can be seen in the Marsh Area this winter.

'Winter Gold' Holly 'Bonfire' Holly

Left: 'Winter Gold' (Ilex verticillata)
Right: 'Bonfire' (Ilex serrata x verticillata)
'Stop Light' Holly 'Earlibright' Holly

Left: 'Stop Light' (Ilex verticillata)
Right: 'Earlibright' (Ilex verticillata)

Return to Shrubs and Vines Table

Devil's Walking Stick (Aralia spinosa)

Devil's Walking Stick Blossoms As you walk to the end of Marsh Road in mid- to late-July, look to the right for a dense thicket of Devils Walking Club that exhibits large terminal clusters of creamy white flowers and large compound leaves. This relatively small tree gets its name from the club-shaped branches and the vicious prickles along the trunk, especially at the nodes. The prickles only form during the first year of growth, and as the tree matures the older stems gradually lose their prickles.

Devil's Walking Stick Leaves are doubly or triply compound and may be up to 5 feet in length, with individual leaflets 2-4 inches long. The purple to black fruits mature in late summer and early fall and are eaten and dispersed by birds; the foliage may be browsed by deer. Devils Walking Stick is native to the southeast, but has been successfully introduced to many other parts of the eastern U.S.

Return to Shrubs and Vines Table

Devilwood (Osmanthus americanus)

Devilwood Tree If you attended the UT Arboretum Society spring plant sale in April, you may have noticed a small evergreen tree across from the Program Shelter bearing clusters of small, very fragrant flowers. This tree, planted in 1965, is a specimen of Devilwood (also known as Wild Olive). It is a native of the Southeastern U.S., mainly found along the coastal plain. It belongs to the Oleaceae (Olive plant family) as do a number of other familiar plants, such as Forsythia, Privet, Ash, Lilac, and Fringe Tree.

Devilwood Flowers Devilwood Bark Devilwood has grayish-brown bark and shiny, simple, leathery, leaves that are opposite in arrangement. It flowers in early spring, and the dark blue fruits, resembling olives, mature in the fall. The fruits are eaten by birds and other wildlife and may persist for much of the winter. Devilwood typically grows to heights of 15-25 ft., but can occasionally reach 30-40 ft. The fine textured wood is extremely difficult to split - hence the common name Devilwood because it is "devilishly hard to split!"

Return to Tree Table

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas)

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Flowers As you walk up the hill from Scarborough Creek along Arboretum Drive in the early spring, you may notice a research collection of trees with small yellow flowers just below and behind the Juniper Collection. These cultivars of Cornelian Cherry Dogwood were planted to identify individuals with exceptional ornamental value (flowering, fruiting, and form) that are hearty in this climate.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood Fruit Cornelian Cherry Dogwood is a multi-stemmed, small tree or shrub native to central and southern Europe and western Asia. The seeds for the research collection were obtained from native trees in Romania and Croatia. The numerous, small yellow clusters of flowers appear in late winter/early spring before the leaves emerge. The bright, cherry red fruit is olive-shaped and matures in July. In its native habitat the fruit is used for syrup and jams. The UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center supports several long-term dogwood breeding projects that are scattered around the Arboretum and research land base.

Return to Tree Table

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Flowering Dogwood Blossoms Flowering Dogwood is most conspicuous in the spring with its bright flowers composed of four large white bracts surrounding the small yellow flowers.

The Arboretum hosts several research collections of dogwood. An extensive collection of dogwood species and cultivars near the Program Shelter provides researchers with genetic material to breed new dogwood varieties. Additional research collections of Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) and Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa) are found along the lower portion of Arboretum Drive where it merges with Old Kerr Hollow Road. The Arboretum also has an extensive research collections of Cornealian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas).

Flowering Dogwood Fall Leaf Color Flowering Dogwood Berries In the fall, Dogwood also provides red to mauve leaf colors and bright red fruits that are eagerly harvested by a variety of birds and squirrels.

Return to Tree Table

Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa)

Kousa Dogwood Kousa Dogwood - varieties known as Chinese Dogwood and Japanese Dogwood - is a small, showy ornamental tree that blooms in mid- to late May. Because of its disease resistance to dogwood anthracnose, it is frequently planted as an alternative to the native flowering dogwood.

Kousa dogwood flowers about a month later than the flowering dogwood. Its crown is wider than tall and is relatively small in stature - 20-30 ft tall. As with flowering dogwood, the small inconspicuous green flowers are surrounded by large white, showy bracts. Its red fruits are said to look like big round raspberries. Fall colors range from dull red to maroon. The attractive bark is exfoliating (comes off in flakes.)

Return to Tree Table

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, one of our more common orchids, can be found throughout the year. Its basal rosette of dark, blue-green, rounded leaves have a distinctive network of silver veins with a broad stripe down the center of each leaf. These leaves are present throughout the winter and have been reported to persist up to four years. The entire plant is covered with a downy pubescence. The upright inflorescence of small white flowers appears in late July or early August.

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain Bloom This species of Goodyera is found throughout the eastern US and adjacent Canada. In our area it is most commonly seen in dry upland pine and oak woodlands with acid soils. The mottled leaves, which somewhat resemble plantain, a common weed, are also said to resemble a snake's skin. Some have claimed that the plant can be used as a cure for snakebite. The dried inflorescence, which may persist into the following growing season, also resembles the rattles of a rattlesnake. Take your pick for the basis of the 'rattlesnake' portion of the common name!

Return to Wildflowers Table

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Douglas Fir Tree The Arboretum's Conifer Collection hosts a variety of conifers native to the western US. A specimen of one of these, Douglas fir, can be found near the Pawpaw planting along Arboretum Drive below the Program Shelter. The scientific name Pseudotsuga, meaning false hemlock, reflects its resemblance to Hemlock (Tsuga), while the specific name menziessi recognizes Archibald Menzies who first discovered this tree on Vancouver Island in the 1790s. The common name pays tribute to David Douglas, an early British botanist/explorer who "rediscovered" the tree along the Columbia River Basin in the 1820s and later throughout the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountain Region.

Two varieties of Douglas Fir are recognized - Coastal Douglas Fir (var. menziesii) occurs along the Pacific coast from central British Columbia south to northern California where it can grow to 300 ft. in height and 30 ft. in diameter. Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir (var. glauca) is found throughout the Rocky Mountain Region east of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada mountains south to Arizona and New Mexico. Our specimen planted in 1965 is var. glauca. The biggest trees (var. menziesii) in an ancient, old growth stand known as Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, are about 800 years, 250 ft. tall, and up to 29 ft. in diameter.

Douglas Fir Needles The dark green needles of Douglas Fir have white bands underneath and are spirally arranged, the branches resembling a bottle brush. The 3-inch cones are pendulous (as opposed to the upright cones of true firs, Abies spp.) and have distinctive 3-lobed seed bracts growing between the cone scales.

Douglas Fir is an important lumber tree with dense durable wood that is resistant to decay and used for many types of construction. It is also a popular Christmas tree. The seeds are an important food for squirrels, birds and other wildlife.

Return to Tree Table

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