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Field Guides & Calendars

Adkins Arboretum Field Guides

The Adkins Arboretum Field Guide series serves as an introduction to some of the 600-plus species of native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, grasses, and ferns that can be found on our grounds. Whether you are able to visit us in person or only through the guides, we hope you will find these videos and support materials with activities as a helpful starting point in exploring the natural world around you—or as an aid in introducing a young naturalist to the wonders of the wild. We’ve purposefully included only select points of identification and a few examples of ecological benefits and cultural significance for each species—the rest is up to you.

Additional resources available to help you on your journey include a month-by-month snapshot of what's in bloom at the Arboretum and our Living Collections Database.

American Beech

Watch an introduction to the American Beech
Download activities for all ages

Learn the meaning behind the American Beech’s Latin name and make leaf rubbings to confirm (or debunk!) this moniker. Hunt for the beech’s tasty treats (with parental supervision) and observe who else joins the feast, and meet some very picky eaters and how they help keep things in check. Can’t make it to the Arboretum? Don’t worry, we’ve included activities you can do at home, too.

Paw Paw

Watch an introduction to the Paw Paw
Download activities for all ages

Learn about the long history of this tropical-looking tree and explore how Native Americans and settlers used the tree and its fruit. Conduct a taste test (with an adult's help) if you're lucky enough to find a ripe Paw Paw fruit, and discover how the Paw Paw helps form the forest understory. If you can't get to the Arboretum, we've included activities you can do at home.

Shining Sumac

Watch an introduction to Shining Sumac
Download activities for all ages

Shining Sumac goes by many names. Check out the scientific naming process, practice chlorophyll rubbing to see how plants produce their own food, and learn the telltale signs of animal activity. Can't get to the Arboretum? We have activities you can do from home.

White Oak

Watch an introduction to the White Oak
Download activities for all ages

How do White Oaks and other plants make their seeds? Learn how the wind helps with pollination, how animals make their homes in the White Oak, and how you can easily tell the age of a tree. If you can't get to the Arboretum, we've included fun activities you can try at home.


Produced by Schoolhouse Farmhouse and researched and written by Assistant Director Jenny Houghton, this project was made possible with generous support from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area.