Bird Bills, Tree Mob, Family Hike, Barking Up The Right Tree: January Arnold Arboretum Events

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January may be cold, but there's lots of action at the Arnold Arboretum this month.

Check out this list of events:

Winter Wellness Walk -- Sunday, Jan. 8, 1-2 pm

Stay connected to nature and enjoy the health benefits of a winter walk at the Arnold Arboretum. Docents will cover seasonal interest, Arboretum history, and plant collections. After the tour, warm up with a hot drink and further conversation with the docent and Arboretum Visitor Staff.

This walk is limited to 20, please register only if you plan to come. Register just one person per form. To sign up, click here.


Lecture: Bird Bills -- Jan. 10,  6:30-7:30 pm, (in-person and livestream)

(Photo from Arnold Arboretum)

Bird bills come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, from the needle-like bills of swallows for picking insects out of the air, to hummingbirds' long and curved bills for probing into the base of a flower, to the robust bill of the evening grosbeak for cracking into seeds. Some even have special features, like pressure sensors that allow shorebirds to detect food without touching it.

The Arnold Arboretum invites you to join Dr. Lorna Gibson, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, to look at the great diversity of bird bills and how they are suited to each individual bird—and to that bird’s favorite meal!

To sign up for the in-person event, click here.  To register for the livestream, click here.


Tree Mob: Sweet Birch -- Thursday, Jan. 12, 2 pm (in-person and livestream)

(Photo by Arnold Arboretum)

It looks like a cherry tree, it smells like root beer, but it is, in fact, the beautiful and aromatic sweet birch. Join Horticulturist Brendan Keegan to learn about this fascinating tree and its role in ecological succession, its use by wildlife, and its importance to indigenous communities. You may even get a chance to smell the wintergreen scent yourself.

For more info and to sign up for the in-person event, click here. To sign up for the livestream, click here.


Family Hike: Evergreens! -- Sunday, Jan. 15, 1-2:30 pm

(Photo from Arnold Arboretum)

Spruces and hemlocks and pines, oh my! Take a walk and use a hand lens to see the intricacies of evergreen needles and cones. You will be surprised at something you’ve never noticed before.

The walking portion of this program will be a mile on moderately sloped wood chips, gravel, and paved paths. For more information, please call 617-384-5209.

To sign up, click here.


Barking Up the Right Tree: A Tour of Bark Diversity at the Arboretum -- Sunday, Jan. 22, 10-11 am

(Photo from Arnold Arboretum)

What is there to see at the Arboretum after all of the leaves have fallen and before spring flowers start to bloom? Bark! Shaggy bark, mottled bark, striped bark: the Arboretum has it all. Join Horticulturist Rachel Lawlor for a walking tour to see some beautiful bark highlights, learn how to identify some trees by their bark alone, and learn why exactly that bark looks the way it does.

This tour will involve walking over grassy slopes, paved roads, mulch paths, and quite possibly some snow.

To sign up, click here.


Virtual Livestream | Book Talk: Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart -- Thursday, Jan. 26, 7-8 pm

In her New York Times bestseller Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities, Amy Stewart takes on Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. Drawing on history, medicine, science, and legend, Stewart presents tales of bloodcurdling botany that will entertain, alarm, and enlighten even the most intrepid gardeners and nature lovers.

This is a virtual-only event. You will receive a Zoom link upon registering.To sign up, click here.


The Overstory: A Participatory Read Aloud -- Saturday, Jan. 28, 1-4 pm


Join a participatory, in-person read-aloud of excerpts from Richard Powers’ tree-inspired novel The Overstory hosted by the Arnold Arboretum.

The read-aloud will take place within the exhibition of artist Diane Samuels' 160-foot scroll, The Overstory by Richard Powers, which was inspired by and celebrates the Pulitzer-prize winning novel. This is the last chance to see the scroll first-hand before the exhibition closes. View the scroll, listen to the excerpts, maybe read a portion yourself. Samuels herself will be joining the event virtually at 1 pm to discuss her work.

Advance registration required, but no need to stay for the full three hours: drop in and out as you please. To sign up, click here.

Photo credit: Scroll photo by Thomas Little.