sunlight filtered through tree leaves

About the Urban Arboretum

The tree-focused parks and gardens of the Augsburg University campus form a green oasis in the urban heart of Minneapolis, close to the banks of the Mississippi River in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Welcome to Augsburg’s own urban arboretum. An arboretum is—quite simply—a living collection of trees.

The Augsburg Urban Arboretum showcases some truly magnificent mature trees, and encompasses campus and Murphy Square, the oldest park in Minneapolis. Altogether, specimens of 34 different species are identified with informative labels along a walking route. A significant proportion of these species are native to Minnesota. The Arboretum is integral to Augsburg’s intentionally developed landscape, and reflects Augsburg’s commitment to the stewardship of natural resources. The Arboretum contributes to the green infrastructure of Augsburg, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, and the city of Minneapolis, by reducing erosion and storm water run-off, providing habitat for birds, insects, and other animals, reducing noise, improving air quality, and benefiting the health and wellbeing of all who spend time on our tree-rich campus.

From delicate apple blossoms in spring, the elm-shaded quad in summer, the blazing allée of vibrant maples in fall, to the resilient fir grove in winter, the Arboretum provides year-round opportunity for repose and reflection. The patient observer may be rewarded with a bald eagle taking flight from the plains cottonwood that towers over the northwest corner of campus. As you explore the Arboretum and learn about the natural history of each tree species, take a moment to marvel at the complexity and beauty of nature and to ponder our place in it. Take a moment to breathe.

The many mature trees across campus have borne witness to the graduation of countless students from Augsburg University, and will stand guard over the graduation of countless more. The Arboretum not only preserves the existing trees and their contribution to the character of Augsburg, but is compelled to promote the planting of additional trees across campus, adding to the diversity and educational value of this living collection. The Arboretum brings increased visibility to the planted landscape in which Augsburg operates. These trees are not just background greenery, but a complex set of dynamic and fascinating organisms worthy of admiration, study, and protection.

Walking Tour Interactive Map

Follow the walking tour map above or open the map in a new window.

List of Trees

American Elm

Ulmus americana
Elm family (Ulmaceae)

This large shade tree was common throughout the Twin Cities until the 1960s, when populations were largely decimated by Dutch elm disease. Some individual trees survived including this one on Augsburg’s campus. More recently, elms are rejoining the landscape as disease-resistant cultivars have been developed. The American elm can most easily be identified by the asymmetrical leaf base where one side is attached lower on the petiole and the two-halves are usually different shapes.

Amur Corktree

Phellodendron amurense
Citrus family (Rutaceae)

The amur corktree has deeply furrowed bark and open, spreading branches that give it a picturesque silhouette in the landscape. This species is native to northeastern China. Herbal extracts prepared from the bark are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat various ailments such as tuberculosis and meningitis. Oils pressed from the fruit of this tree are used as an insecticide similar to pyrethrin.

Apple (Honeycrisp)

Malus × domestica ‘Honeycrisp’
Rose family (Rosaceae)

Minnesota’s official state fruit, the Honeycrisp apple was developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1999. This premier apple is supremely juicy with prominent crispness. In Europe, New Zealand, and South Africa, this apple variety is marketed under the name Honeycrunch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we believe Minnesotagrown Honeycrisp apples taste slightly better than their counterparts around the world.

Apple (Zestar!®)

Malus × domestica ‘Zestar!®’
Rose family (Rosaceae)

The Zestar!® apple cultivar was developed by the University of Minnesota and released in 1999. It is an early season variety, ready to be picked by early September. The red-blushed apples have outstanding flavor and crispness. This apple is also cold hardy, making it a good choice for apple growers in northern climates.

Bitternut Hickory

Carya cordiformis
Walnut family (Juglandaceae)

The bitternut hickory is a tall, slender tree common in the Big Woods region of southern Minnesota. It grows to 80 feet, and the compound leaves have seven to nine leaflets that emerge from buds which turn bright mustard yellow in winter. The nuts are encased in husks that split open when ripe in the fall. Though the bittertasting nuts are inedible to humans, they are dispersed by squirrels and other small mammals.

Black Maple

Acer nigrum
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

Black maple is native to southeastern Minnesota and is very similar in both appearance and ecology to the sugar maple. Black maple tends to be more common in floodplains, where it can withstand short durations of spring flooding. Black maple is named for its bark, which is gray to blackish and contains deep furrows and short, narrow ridges.

Black Walnut

Juglans nigra
Walnut family (Juglandaceae)

Black walnuts, like the ones found here in Murphy Square, are native to Minnesota and thrive under direct sunlight and large forest openings. They are recognizable for their large stature and compound leaves, each containing 12 to 18 leaflets. Perhaps most familiar is the dark, hard “walnut” encased within a green, fleshy fruit that the tree produces each summer. Black walnuts release a compound called juglone, which inhibits the growth of other plants, reducing competition through a process called allelopathy.

Blue Spruce

Picea pungens
Pine family (Pinaceae)

The blue spruce was first described in 1862, from a population growing high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It has since become popular as a landscape tree and as a Christmas tree, with large plantations in the northeastern United States supplying demand. Mature blue spruce can stand 75 feet tall and live to be 600 years old. Trees planted in parks and gardens generally do not grow to be as large.

Bur Oak

Quercus macrocarpa
Beech family (Fagaceae)

Minnesota’s most common oak, the bur oak is one of the largest and most long-lived species of oaks, capable of reaching 400 years old. Its leaves can be distinguished from white oak by velvety texture underneath and one to two deep lobes in the lower half of the leaf. The thick, fire-resistant bark preserves bur oak as the dominant species of Minnesota’s diverse but vanishing oak savanna vegetation type.

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis
Legume family (Fabaceae)

The eastern redbud is a small tree that strikes a unique silhouette with its crooked trunk and irregular crown when mature. However, it’s best known for bursting into spectacular bloom in early spring, carrying clusters of pink, pea-like flowers close to the branches. The flowers are a good early source of pollen and nectar for honeybees. Native peoples would steep the bark of eastern redbud in hot water as a treatment for whooping cough.

Freeman Maple

Acer × freemanii
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

The Freeman maple is a hybrid of two native Minnesota trees: the red maple and silver maple. The hybridization of these trees combines the strong branch attachment of the red maple and the fast-growing traits of the silver maple. In addition to these desirable traits is the brilliant and beautiful autumn red foliage which makes Freeman maple highly desirable in urban settings. As a result of selective breeding, there are many cultivars of the Freeman maple, of which Autumn Blaze® may be one of the most familiar.

Green Ash

Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Olive family (Oleaceae)

Green ash has compound leaves with opposite leaflets and characteristic bark with diamond-shaped furrows. Once ubiquitous in Minnesota, green ash is slowly becoming rarer as a result of the invasive emerald ash borer, first detected in the state in 2009. Thinning and dieback of the crown is a typical symptom of emerald ash borer infestation as the larvae girdle the tree and starve the branches of nutrients.


Celtis occidentalis
Cannabis family (Cannabaceae)

The hackberry has been a good substitute for the elm after the arrival of Dutch elm disease. It can be distinguished from elms by its more tapered leaves with three prominent veins radiating from an asymmetrical base and small berry-like drupes that turn maroon in late summer. Odd structures are noticeable on some hackberry leaves. These are nipple galls, abnormal growths formed by the tree in response to the sap-sucking nymphs of a species of insect called a psyllid.

Honey Locust

Gleditsia triacanthos
Legume family (Fabaceae)

Honey locust is known to have occurred naturally only in the southeastern corner of Minnesota. Most cultivated specimens of this lovely tree lack the menacing 8-inch branching thorns seen on wild trees. The trees are usually dioecious, meaning individuals have either pollen- or seedbearing flowers. Seeds are carried in large, twisted pods, a favorite food for deer, squirrels, rabbits, and grazing farm animals.

Japanese Tree Lilac

Syringa reticulata
Olive family (Oleaceae)

This small ornamental tree is native to eastern Asia and is the largest of the lilac species. It can exceed 30 feet in height once mature. The reddishbrown bark is shiny with horizontal lenticels (pores) and resembles cherry bark. Japanese tree lilac blooms later than the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) and forms upright panicles of creamy white flowers with a strong fragrance.

Kentucky Coffeetree

Gymnocladus dioicus
Legume family (Fabaceae)

The Kentucky coffeetree has the largest leaf of any tree from this part of the globe: a bipinnately compound leaf up to three feet long and consisting of as many as 100 separate leaflets. The large woody bean pods are also impressive, remaining on the tree well into winter. Although the large beans produced by this tree were roasted by early settlers as a coffee substitute, the fresh beans and pods contain toxic alkaloids and should be avoided.

Littleleaf Linden

Tilia cordata
Mallow family (Malvaceae)

This popular street tree is a European transplant, closely related to American basswood (Tilia americana). The fragrant flowers are produced in clusters with a supporting leaf. Linden honey is prized, and bees are attracted to a linden in bloom. Linden wood is finely grained and used for intricate wood carvings, such as those in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Maidenhair Tree

Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo family (Ginkgoaceae)

The maidenhair tree is the sole surviving species of Ginkgo, a genus of gymnosperms with origins in the Jurassic Period. It’s a graceful gymnosperm native to China and widely planted in urban environments for its resilience to pollution, pathogens, and compacted soils. The fleshy outer layer of the ginkgo seed contains butyric acid, which releases a smell like vomit or rancid butter when unwitting pedestrians crush fallen seeds on the ground.

Northern Catalpa

Catalpa speciosa
Trumpet vine family (Bignoniaceae)

This highly ornamental tree was originally found in a small region where the Mississippi and Ohio rivers meet. Featuring large heart-shaped leaves and clusters of showy, white, bell-shaped flowers followed by 20-inch-long bean-like pods, it has since become a popular species for streets and gardens all over the Midwest despite its often immense size. The largest northern catalpa ever recorded was more than 85 feet tall with a 290-inch circumference.

Northern Pin Oak

Quercus ellipsoidalis
Beech family (Fagaceae)

The northern pin oak is easily confused with the northern red oak, but the leaves of northern pin oak are glossier, with deeper sinuses (openings) between the lobes. The acorns are also smaller and sit more deeply within their cups. This tree is common across Minnesota, and mature individuals can reach a height of about 70 feet. Its spectacular fall color has made it a popular landscape and street tree.

Norway Maple

Acer platanoides
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

The Norway maple is native to Europe and is commonly planted in boulevards and parks within Minnesota. It is uniquely tolerant to urban conditions, which has historically made it a popular choice for city plantings. More recently, the Norway maple is considered an invasive species by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and can invade local woodlands by outcompeting native trees. Often confused for sugar maple, Norway maple bark is darker in color with narrower, shallow fissures.

Ohio Buckeye

Aesculus glabra
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

The Ohio buckeye is native to the south central region of the United States, and its native range does not extend into Minnesota. Despite this natural range, the Ohio buckeye has been planted in Minnesota for decades. Traits including its thick shady foliage, beautiful spring flowers, salt tolerance, and autumn colors make it popular as an urban tree. The Ohio buckeye is most commonly known for its buckeyes: small, dark brown nuts with a light patch resembling the eye of a small animal.

Pagoda Dogwood

Cornus alternifolia
Dogwood family (Cornaceae)

The pagoda dogwood is often found in the understory of the hardwood forests of eastern North America. A small tree of about 25 feet in height, the pagoda dogwood tolerates shade and develops distinctive tiers of horizontal branches. The broad, oval leaves are arranged alternately along the stems. Fragrant, creamy white flowers give way to small blue-black fruit in late summer, which are dispersed by diverse species of birds and small mammals.

Pin Cherry

Prunus pennsylvanica
Rose family (Rosaceae)

The pin cherry is a common understory tree throughout the forested parts of Minnesota. It prefers clearings with higher light, such as where larger trees have toppled. Although the trees themselves are comparatively shortlived, seldom living to 35 years old, their seeds can remain viable in the soil for as long as 50 years. Numerous seedlings often sprout in the wake of a forest fire, which is why this species has another common name: fire cherry.

Plains Cottonwood

Populus deltoides subsp. monilifera
Willow family (Salicaceae)

The plains cottonwood is the most massive broadleaf tree in Minnesota and this specimen showcases that immense size. It is fastgrowing and is commonly found on floodplains and lakeshores. A single plains cottonwood can release many tens of millions of seeds, usually in late May when the spring floodwaters are receding. The seeds are wind-dispersed on cottony filaments, and dense accumulations can block air conditioners or other vents.

Quaking Aspen

Populus tremuloides
Willow family (Salicaceae)

The quaking aspen is the most abundant tree in Minnesota, and it is perhaps the most widespread in North America. The smooth white bark of young trees turns furrowed and gray with age. The leaves are attached to the stems with flattened petioles, allowing them to quiver in the breeze. Stimulated by fire and clear-cutting, this species spreads by suckering from its root system. In this way, acres of land can be covered by genetically identical aspen clones.

Red Maple

Acer rubrum
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

The red maple is known for its brilliant red foliage in autumn and bright red flowers in the spring, both of which contribute to its name. Red maple is common throughout most of central and northern Minnesota, and some evidence suggests its numbers have increased in recent years due to fire suppression. Red maple leaves can be distinguished from other maples by their heavily toothed margins and shallow lobes.

River Birch

Betula nigra
Birch family (Betulaceae)

In Minnesota, the native habitat of the river birch is confined to the floodplains of the Mississippi River south of the Twin Cities. A flood adapted pioneer species, this tree grows fast and may reach a height of about 40 feet when mature. When young, the river birch has attractive salmon-pink bark. Flowers develop in catkins typical for this family; the long, pendulous catkins carry the staminate (male) flowers that release pollen to the wind, usually in late April.


Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’
Rose family (Rosaceae)

Serviceberries are small understory trees or multistemmed shrubs. This tree is a hybrid between two native serviceberry species: downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and smooth serviceberry (Amelanchier laevis). Serviceberries are appreciated for their spring flowers and berries that can be used in jams and jellies. The Autumn Brilliance cultivar in particular has brilliant orange-red fall color.

Siberian Elm

Ulmus pumila
Elm family (Ulmaceae)

The Siberian elm is native to northern China and eastern Siberia but has been found in Minnesota since the 1860s. It has never been a popular tree despite its low susceptibility to Dutch elm disease and its wide range for tolerance across the state. While the Siberian elm can invade native habitats, it is not generally considered an ecological threat. The Siberian elm can be distinguished from the American elm by its small leaves, which measure less than 2 ½ inches long.

Silver Maple

Acer saccharinum
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

The silver maple is a common floodplain species found throughout Minnesota. Its leaves are similar to other maples but can be distinguished by their deep lobes and are silver beneath. Most distinctive among all maples is their shaggy bark, which develops into long, thin strips as the tree ages. Silver maple is often planted as a fastgrowing shade tree and is found in city parks around the metro area.

Sugar Maple

Acer saccharum
Soapberry family (Sapindaceae)

Sugar maples are the principal source of syrup production in Minnesota and are well known for their sweet sap and beautiful autumn foliage. The sugar maple is a slow-growing, long-lived tree common throughout the state. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and is sensitive to both flooding and fire. The leaves of the sugar maple can be distinguished from other maples by their smoother leaf margins and more pronounced lobes.

Swamp White Oak

Quercus bicolor
Beech family (Fagaceae)
Growing in lowland forests on the Mississippi River floodplain, the locks and dams constructed on the river during the 20th century caused most of Minnesota’s native swamp white oaks to disappear. This species bears its acorns on long, slender peduncles that distinguish it from bur oak. The acorns are highly sought after by birds, rodents, raccoons, and deer, containing fewer tannins and being less bitter than those from other species. Slow-growing and long-lived (250 years or more), swamp white oaks have root systems adapted to acidic, compacted soils prone to spring flooding.

White Fir

Abies concolor
Pine family (Pinaceae)

The white fir is native to the mountain ranges of the western United States. The blue-green needles are flattened, curve outward and upward, and emit a citrusy scent when crushed. As with other fir species, the cones appear upright on the branches. The white fir is popular in landscaping and as a Christmas tree. In the wild, white fir can be the host of dwarf mistletoe, a plant parasite in the sandalwood family.

White Spruce

Picea glauca
Pine family (Pinaceae)

This tall and slender evergreen is a common component of Minnesota’s Northwoods, where the oldest specimens are thought to be about 300 years old. Some white spruce north of the Arctic Circle are thought to be nearly 1,000 years old. Although white spruce is extremely cold hardy, the flush of new growth can be sensitive to spring frosts. New foliage soon matures into needles that are stiff and pointed with a square cross section.