Vanishing Acts: Trees Under Threat

Date: 
Friday, March 2, 2018 to Friday, December 21, 2018
Location: 
Church Exhibition Gallery, Lyman Plant House

Extinction is a natural process and over millions of years, innumerable species and countless trees have gone extinct. However, today, human driven processes such as overexploitation, habitat loss and climate change are accelerating the rates of extinction for many species, including trees. Currently, 10% of all tree species are threatened with extinction.

Beyond their aesthetic beauty, trees are often integral parts of their ecosystems, as well as providing humans with food, lumber and medicine. Tree conservationists and scientists are bringing light to the issue of tree extinctions, showing the incredible diversity of threatened trees, and informing the public on how they can help to save them.

Trees featured in the exhibit include the Chinese Magnolia (Magnolia sinica) which only has 100 trees remaining in the wild, and Monkey Puzzle tree, (Araucaria araucana) which is worshipped by the Pehuenche people of Chile. The exhibit also includes trees the Botanic Garden of Smith College has in their collection, such as the Serbian Spruce (Picea omorkia), and the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

Botanic gardens and arboreta play an important role in tree conservation by growing, researching, and preserving at risk trees as well as working together to prevent plant extinctions and ensure tree diversity all around the planet. However, individuals can have a massive impact as well. Combating climate change and reducing carbon emissions by choosing to walk, bike or ride public transportation, recycling wood and paper, and being conscientious about the sources of the plant based materials we consume are ways we can all help stop habitat destruction and overexploitation.

This exhibition was organized and circulated in partnership with The Morton Arboretum, the Global Trees Campaign, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International with support from the U.S. Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Dawn redwood