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Plantplaces virtual arboretum is a wealth of locally relevant horticultural information

Imagine if there was a place online which provided access to databases of plants specific to the Cincinnati area, allowing individuals to access at the click of a button photos, information, and records of local performance. Well, there is!

The Plantplaces virtual arboretum is a collaborative effort spearheaded by Steve Foltz of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Utilizing submissions by numerous local plants men and contributors, Plantplaces is building a database of virtually every woody and herbaceous plant growing in the Cincinnati area.

The ambitious Plantplaces project allows for the development of additional sites for other geographical locations. The genius of the project is that it allows for photographic representations of how plants are actually performing in local conditions, rather than relying on hardiness maps or generalized manuals which claim a plant is native or will grow locally.

In many cases, plants are listed as native or recommended locally. Examples include sourwood (Oxydendron arboretum) and Canaan fir (Abies balsamii var. phanerolepsis). Foltz points out that the sourwood, a beautiful small tree native to the Appalachian mountains, is listed as native but performs poorly in Cincinnati and there are few if any examples of live specimens. Canaan fir is also advocated for local planting but is another tree which does not perform locally as advertised. The Plantplaces site includes the Cilicican fir (Abies cilicica) which is seldom mentioned but has been thriving for nearly a century at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum.

Currently, Plantplaces includes databases of thousand of trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials, and annuls, search capabilities, mapping of the locations of plants in the database, plant trial information, rain garden and green roof information, individual recommended plant lists from horticultural professionals, and links to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Plantplaces is linked from the Arbor Doctor website and is utilized for the Arbor Doctor tree and plant dictionary.


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