Arboretum is a 19th century term derived from Latin and means ‘a place with trees’, and trees have been at the heart of Kew since its earliest days.
Today the Arboretum stretches across two-thirds of the Gardens and contains a great scientific collection of over 14,000 trees, representing more than 2,000 specimens, including rare and ancient varieties. Some trees are as old as the Gardens themselves and many cannot be found anywhere else in Britain.
This unique living landscape changes dramatically through the year and provides Kew with its grand vistas, woodland glades, conservation collections and specimens of heritage status. Many of the trees are arranged in groups according to genera, so trees that are related to each other are placed together for comparison and ease of research.
To explore the Arboretum at Kew is to gain insight into the beauty and diversity of forests around the globe and also, through our specially designated Natural Areas, to connect with a very local British woodland.
Some of our oldest trees date back to the 18th century and include the Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum), the Lucombe oak (Quercus x hispanica 'Lucombeana'), and the black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia).
This area comprises a mix of coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum), and was planted in the 1860s. A specimen of coastal redwood in the Redwood Grove is Kew’s tallest tree, standing at 39.3 metres high.
Trees planted in our urban landscapes play an important role in taking potentially harmful carbon out of the air. At Kew Gardens scientists estimate that its 14,000 trees ‘draw down’ approximately 8.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of London’s air every year.