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Donald E. Davis Arboretum would like to provide an open-air classroom environment where faculty, students and the Auburn community can enjoy a place of beauty and tranquility, where a quiet walk is still possible. It is neither a park, nor a garden. Although the distinction between arboreta, gardens and parks is often blurred, the following characteristics often hold.
Parks are designed for picnics, playing, hiking and various other outdoor activities. They appeal to the need to get out-of-doors and become involved in non-sedentary things. The plants in a park are mostly native indigenous species. They emphasize color, texture and design. The plants are selected for their contribution to the beauty of the place and are often cultivated exotic varieties or species.
Arboreta are collections of different species and appeal to the intellectual side of human nature. Often they attempt to display all of the species in a botanical group, such as the hollies or oaks.
The Davis Arboretum displays a collection of Alabama’s native trees. The selection of this as an area of emphasis was derived in part by the fact that there are few arboreta that feature almost exclusively their native plant species, and native plants usually require less special care. The Arboretum shows plants growing in the diverse habitats that exist in Alabama such as rocky hillsides, stream bottoms, pond edges, salt spray influenced sand dunes, pitcher plant bogs and the alkaline soil of the Black Belt prairie.
The Donald E. Davis Arboretum is funded and managed by the College of Sciences and Mathematics.