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Core Arboretum


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The Core Arboretum, devoted to the study and appreciation of trees, plants, and nature, is named for its founder, the distinguished botanist Earl Core. The 91-acre arboretum in Morgantown is managed by West Virginia University’s Department of Biology. Primarily known for native West Virginia plants, the arboretum also contains exotic trees and shrubs of special interest.

The arboretum is mostly steep hillside and Monongahela River floodplain. A 3.5-mile trail network provides access to old-growth forest with a rich herbaceous flora. Planted trees and shrubs occupy small lawn areas. The arboretum has more than 300 kinds of woody plants and more than 300 species of herbaceous plants, including spectacular spring wildflowers. Observers have identified 180 species of birds there.

Professor Charles Frederick Millspaugh first suggested the need for an arboretum at the university in 1890. In 1948, President Irvin Stewart approved biology department chairman Earl Core’s proposal to found an arboretum on part of farmland acquired for campus expansion. The university established official boundaries and an endowment for the arboretum in 1998. Generations of students have used the arboretum for outdoor lab work. Research performed there has led to many advanced degrees and to journal articles. However, most visitors appreciate the area primarily as an oasis of nature in a busy urban area.

Written by Jon Weems