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Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat Exhibit
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat exhibit inspires people to save endangered trees and shows how trees enrich our lives.

A new traveling exhibit on display at the Brenton Arboretum seeks to increase public awareness of the precarious future of the world’s endangered trees, including several tree species in central Iowa. Four of the featured trees can be found right here at the Brenton Arboretum.

The exhibit will be on display at the Brenton Arboretum from June 6-November 21.

“You might not hear a lot about globally endangered trees, but it’s a problem as serious as the plight of endangered animals. In many cases, they both are losing habitat to the same forces. The exhibit helps people understand why we all must protect globally endangered trees, and how everyone can act as a champion for trees.” said Lynn Kuhn, executive director of the Brenton Arboretum.

Visitors will embark upon a global journey exploring 15 compelling tree stories from around the world. Each story reflects the exhibit’s primary theme—that we must protect and save endangered trees so that future generations may experience their numerous benefits, including medicinal, agricultural, ecological and aesthetic.

These four threatened trees on the list of 15 grow at the Brenton Arboretum:

Frasier fir (Abies fraseri)
Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
Serbian spruce (Picea omorika)
Anhui elm (Ulmus gaussenii)

Look for colored tags in these trees at the arboretum to learn why they are threatened.

In addition to the trees featured in the traveling exhibit, the Brenton Arboretum collection has four more species that are threatened:

Korean fir (Abies koreana)
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Luiang spruce (Picea luiang)
Langya mountain elm (Ulmus chenmoui)

These and more than 8,000 tree species—10 percent of the world’s total—are in danger of extinction, according to the World List of Threatened Trees. Vanishing Acts calls attention to the many threats facing trees today, including unsustainable harvesting, land-use changes, invasive species, climate change and pollution. The exhibit acknowledges the often complex circumstances in which immediate human needs compete with long-term sustainability.

“Vanishing Acts elucidates how dire the situation is for many trees across the globe. In sharing this kind of information, we hope that the exhibit will encourage people to take direct action to help trees,” said Kunso Kim, Head of Collections and Curator of The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL.

The Morton Arboretum developed and produced the exhibit in association with the Global Trees Campaign, a partnership between Fauna and Flora International and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. The Global Trees Campaign focuses on building awareness, support, and conservation efforts to save the world’s most endangered trees from extinction. The Morton Arboretum, a world-renowned leader in tree science and education, is a 1,700-acre outdoor museum outside of Chicago, IL.

The exhibit demonstrates graphically that ecosystems are shaped by cause and effect. For example, the disappearance of an individual tree can endanger the living conditions for surrounding plants, animals, and insects. Protecting trees helps promote the health of their ecosystems, because a more diverse group of plants, animals, and insects can respond to changes better than a place where there is less biological diversity.

Exhibit panels include world maps showing where the trees live, and engaging stories about vital conservation efforts. Viewers will find simple, specific action steps to promote tree conservation efforts, including planting trees, supporting organizations that plant and protect trees, and sharing what they’ve learned with others.

Funding for this exhibit comes from The Morton Arboretum and the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services, Museums for America Grant Program.

The traveling exhibit, Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat can be seen June 6th through November 21st

Fraser fir received aid from Christmas Tree
farms like this one. However the numbers in the wild remain low. This tree is growing at the Brenton Arboretum.

Ecosystems where the Fraser fir grows are declining due to limited trees growing in the wild.

The Anhui elm is the key to developing
disease resistant elms. Only30 mature trees remain in the wild. This unique elm can be seen growing at the Brenton Arboretum.

Once thought extinct, the dawn redwood is critically endangered due to lack of locations to grow. This tree can be seen growing at the Brenton Arboretum in two locations.

Until the 1940’s the dawn redwood was only known in fossil records.

Vanishing Acts Dawn redwood tree tag back side Look for colored tree tags like this one, which identify threatened species that can be found growing at the arboretum..
Vanishing Acts first panel This is the first of 17 interpretive panels that tell the compelling story of trees under threat around the world. Look for it at the Pavilion.
Vanishing Acts Membership Gathering June 2014 Founder, Buz Brenton, board members and arboretum members listen to stories about threatened trees at this audio panel at the traveling exhibit, Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat, located near the Pavilion at the Brenton Arboretum.
Vanishing Acts path The traveling exhibit, Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat can be seen June-November 2014 at the Brenton Arboretum.

Blog History

9/13/2018 - Andy Schmitz, Director of Horticulture, Published in Prestigious Journal
3/24/2016 - Dallas County Foundation funds new Gator for Brenton Arboretum
2/15/2016 - The Best Tree You've Never Heard Of
7/1/2015 - Stormwater Walk
5/22/2015 - Historic Homes & Gardens of the Scottich Highlands Tour
12/15/2014 - Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Five Southern Iowa Counties
10/24/2014 - 2014 Urban Tree Conference
8/25/2014 - Emerald Ash Borer
7/17/2014 - Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat Exhibit
5/7/2014 - INTOXICATING!
3/4/2014 - Plant Conservation at the Brenton Arboretum
2/18/2014 - Drought 2012 by Becky Strom
2/4/2014 - Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Bremer and Wapello Counties
1/28/2014 - Drake University Contest
1/13/2014 - The Des Moines Register ‘s Editorial: Iowa needs to focus on ash tree disaster
1/13/2014 - Des Moines Register, Iowa View: 32,000 football fields of trees gone
1/4/2014 - Happy Holidays from the Brenton Arboretum!
1/3/2014 - Osage Orange
10/23/2013 - The Chiara Quartet
1/1/2010 - Kids Nature Club
1/1/2010 - Register for a FREE program!