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Schuylkill River Park Arboretum


You voted for your favorite tree:

the PawPaw!


We kicked off the celebration of our arboretum status by planting a new sensory garden between the playground and multi-purpose court. The sensory garden features trees and shrubs that, you guessed it, thrill the senses. 

We are excited to announce that Schuylkill River Park has been certified as a Level I arboretum. View a complete list of park trees here.

SRP List of Trees.png

What is an arboretum?

Arbor means tree, and an arboretum is a garden made up of trees. Schuylkill River Park has more than 50 different tree species, from the ball fields to the community garden and FSRP has worked to make it an official arboretum!

As part of becoming an arboretum, a succession plan will be developed for the systematic removal of dead and declining trees, pruning of maturing trees for better structure and longer life, and planting the next generation of park trees. 


Benefits of an Arboretum



The park trees are a vital component of the neighborhood tree canopy. The trees of Center City West are a tremendous asset. They purify the air and provide welcome shade that reduces air conditioning use.


They also absorb significant amounts of stormwater, reduce erosion, and filter pollutants that would otherwise drain into the Schuylkill River from Center City West. The park is the largest swath of green space in Center City West with a collection of over 250 trees comprising

more than 50 different species.


The Arboretum will enhance the public’s enjoyment of the park.

Historically, FSRP has only had the funding to remove dead trees. In recent memory, the trees haven't had structural pruning necessary for growth and long health. Arboretum status will provide additional funding to protect and enhance the health of the park’s trees for the enjoyment of all.



The Arboretum’s educational program will benefit area school children and park-goers. Local science teachers from Greenfield School and The Philadelphia School have enthusiastically embraced the Arboretum as a future extension of their classrooms, with plans to develop a nature education program.

Nature-based educational activities also will be posted on the Arboretum website for the benefit of all park-goers.

Sensory Garden

We are working to build a "sensory garden" that includes trees that have strong sensory traits – trees that appeal to our five senses (smell, touch, taste, sight, and sound).


School children will be introduced to nature education through the sensory garden, that will expose visitors to a wide variety of sensory experiences. The garden will also be used for therapeutic purposes for both special needs students and persons living with dementia.

FSRP is considering five different species of trees to plant in the sensory garden. Each offers one main sensory trait, and other characteristics are also included:


  • Sassafras (scent)

  • Shagbark Hickory (sight) 

  • Sweetgum (touch)

  • Golden Rain Tree (sound)

  • PawPaw (taste)

Learn more about each tree and download the presentation here!


Tree Tagging and Mapping

Wondering about the brass tags on all the park trees? It’s all part of the process of identifying, mapping and evaluating the trees of our Arboretum. Knowing the health status of each tree is the first step toward planning for a better, greener park.


The tree tags will identify park trees and include a QR code. The code will link to additional

information and activities. These tags will provide a significant educational benefit to students and other park-goers.


Arboretum Staff and Funding

As a certified Level 1 Arboretum, we join a community of international arboreta and have attracted a team of professionals that will help us better serve the needs of the park.


FSRP is fortunate to have the help of the following professionals who are generously donating their time and expertise:

  • Jacqueline Horgan: Vice President of Full Steam Forward, a free online STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) enrichment program for girls of color that promotes equity in science education. She also is an adjunct instructor at Penn State University, Department of Education. She earned a doctorate in science education from Columbia University.

  • Dimitra Grigoriou: Landscape Architect at Olin Studio, an urban landscape architecture firm in Center City Philadelphia. She earned a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia.

  • John Studdy: ISA Certified Arborist and the area Arborist Representative for Bartlett Tree Experts. He earned a B.A. in Urban Studies and City Planning from the University of Maryland.

  • Susan Kahn: FSRP Board member who heads this effort, leads the CCRA Green Committee and is an ISA Certified arborist.

FSRP could not have entered into such a project without additional funding and support. Funding for the Arboretum has been generously provided by Heirloom Market and Center City Residents' Association. Heirloom provided the initial funding, allowing the park trees to be evaluated and mapped. CCRA has provided additional funding for plant material, classroom supplies, signage, and tree care.

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