Campus in the fall

October 03, 2019

SIU’s nationally recognized arboretum is the place for leaf collection projects

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Fall is here and for many students throughout Southern Illinois, that means getting a class assignment to create a leaf collection.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale, home to the highest accredited university arboretum in Illinois, is here to help.

Visitors welcome

Young people are welcome to visit SIU’s 1,200-acre main campus to collect leaves.

SIU’s scenic locale features nearly 5,200 trees, including 155 species and 72 genera, making it a prime spot to collect a wide variety of different leaves.

There is no charge for collecting leaves on campus, but visitors are asked to be respectful of the campus and its flora, fauna and people.

SIU is the first university in the state to earn Level II Arboretum Accreditation from the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and SIU is featured on the Morton Register of Arboreta. This global initiative, the only one of its kind, officially recognizes arboreta for development, capacity and professionalism.

One major component of the SIU Arboretum project is an educational element.

Marked and identified

SIU has already placed maroon tags on 150 trees, featuring the scientific and common names of each tree, the SIU Arboretum identifier and a QR code. Just scan the code with a smartphone or electronic device and it will take you directly to a website where you can learn more about that type of tree, including how to identify its leaves, buds, bark and fruit.

The arboretum encompasses the entire campus and the maps identify over 5,000 inventoried trees.

Walking tours set

In addition, SIU offers six different self-guided walking tree tours, giving visitors the opportunity to plan where they’ll go to find the leaves they need. Find details about each tour, along with printable maps, on the SIU Arboretum website. The tours range from 1.3 to 2.3 miles and take in different areas of campus.

To learn more

For more information about the SIU Arboretum, visit the website at, email or call 618/453-8185.