Ecosystems at the Arboretum
The Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens offers homeowners, landscapers and arborists an opportunity to view and evaluate a wide variety of trees and ecosystems, including rare plant species. Plantings in the Arboretum are carefully selected for suitability to local soil and climate conditions, insect and disease resistance and overall low maintenance requirements.
Please click below to learn more about each type of ecosystem available to visit at the Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Ecosystems change seasonally, so be sure to visit during all four seasons. Maps are available online and in the visitor center.
Much of the Arboretum was once prairie. Prairies occur in temperate climates (such as Kansas) with grasses, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type. A “mesic” prairie has good drainage and soil moisture during the growing season and therefore is more endangered, since it is most likely to be converted to agriculture. The north entrance to the Arboretum and the area surrounding Margaret's Pond represent a prairie ecosystem showing human disturbances such as grazing and probably cropping on the north edge of the site. Remnants of prairie can be seen, including Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass.
The Dry Oak-Hickory forest is a typical ecosystem for this area, as well as for much of eastern and central North America. Post Oak, Black Oak and Shagbark Hickory, the dominant trees here, are examples of “deciduous” trees, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall and winter. This ecosystem lies above the flood plains on the north side of Wolf Creek and on the upland areas south of the creek, where it grades into old field areas to the south. The oak-hickory forest is a typical ecosystem for this area and contains Post Oak, Black Oak and Shagbark Hickory as dominant species as well as rock out-croppings and rock layers at the surface. This area is showing signs of succession with many pioneer invading species.
The Mesic Oak-Hickory ecosystem is found along the lower, south side of the Wolf Creek floodplain. Because it lies on a slope that faces north, it receives less sunlight and has cooler, moister soil that supports the largest trees in the Arboretum, such as Red Oak, Shagbark Hickory and White Ash, along with an abundance of spring wildflowers. This ecosystem occurs in a narrow strip along Wolf Creek and is bounded on the north by the Wolf Creek floodplain and on the south by the limestone cliff. The deep, moist soils support the largest trees on the property, including Red Oak, Chinkapin Oak, Shagbark Hickory, White Ash, Black Walnut, Butternut, Hickory, Hackberry and Bur Oak. The presence of Paw Paw and Leatherwood shows some resemblance to the Ozark region. The rich soil supports an abundance of spring wildflowers. This is probably the most unique and fragile ecosystem on the site. Its deep, rocky draws are visible from the Bluff Trail.
Overland Park, KS 66013
|The Arboretum is open seven days a week.
Oct. 1-April 9: 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
April 10-Sept. 30: 8:00 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
(Fourth Saturday of June: closes at Noon)
Dec. 25 - Closed
Free for members of Friends of the Arboretum
$1.00 Child 6-12
Free 5 years and younger
No admission charge on Tuesdays.