Saluting a paragon of plants

2 min read

Throughout its 140-year history, the Arnold Arboretum has advanced our understanding of biodiversity through the work of some of the most significant people in plant science. Among this select group is senior research scientist Peter Del Tredici, who retires from the Arboretum in January 2014 after 35 years. Over that time, Del Tredici has made many indelible contributions to the stewardship and study of the living collections as well as to the fields of plant morphology, plant exploration, public horticulture, urban ecology, and the science of climate change. A uniting theme in his work has been to bridge the gaps that traditionally separate the fields of landscape design, horticulture, and ecology.

Del Tredici began his career at the Arboretum in 1979 as an assistant propagator in the Arboretum’s Dana Greenhouses. Over three subsequent decades at the Arboretum, Del Tredici has been recognized for his research on an array of plants and plant families, including Ginkgo biloba, conifers and dwarf conifers, magnolias (Magnolia spp.), stewartias (Stewartia spp.), and hemlocks (Tsuga spp.). Since 1984, he has also curated the Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection, conducting extensive research into their origins and leading a comprehensive restoration effort to return them to their traditional design. He has won numerous awards including the Jackson Dawson Memorial Medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1986, the Arthur Hoyt Scott Garden and Horticultural Award in 1999, and the Veitch Memorial Medal from The Royal Horticultural Society in 2013.