The Davis arboretum functions as a plant museum and living laboratory for science learning. It has at its core a living collection of scientifically ordered plants. Plant collections are fundamentally distinct from purely ornamental displays, and the collections in the arboretum are grouped taxonomically by genus. The 3 primary collections that are interpreted are the oaks, Quercus; the native azaleas, Rhododendron; and pitcher plants, Sarracenia.

By holding these collections and focusing on plants native to the southeast, with emphasis on Alabama, the arboretum is a living classroom of curated plants that offers educational programs to the college, the local schools and community groups. Workshops are given periodically on various topics, including the benefits of using native plants and incorporating them into home landscapes.

The Davis Arboretum is also a place of quiet reflection for relaxation, art, writing and many other pursuits. Whether you are a teacher wanting to bring your class on a field trip, or a homeschooler interested in learning opportunities for your children, the arboretum is an ideal site for organized field trips or self-guided exploration.