Exploring the root of the word 'arboretum'

It’s on one of those signs you see along the highway, or in a listing on a map or travel guide: "National Arboretum,"  "University Arboretum," or perhaps "State Arboretum." 

This invites the question: what exactly is an "arboretum?" 

Think of it as a “zoo for trees.” Yes, you read that correctly. 

Nutty Nuggets

Before I say anything about the importance of acorns in the forest, it’s important to start with the fact that the world’s biggest acorn is in Moore Square Park in downtown Raleigh. It’s fitting to find it there. After all, Raleigh calls itself “The City of Oaks.” And if it were real, there's no doubt this nut would produce a giant oak. The big nut is 10 feet tall and weighs about 1,250 lbs.

Acorns Count

The acorn is not only a symbol of fall, but the nuts are a baseline indicator of the current and future health of the forest ecosystem. U.S. Forest Service researchers studying acorns find a bounty of acorns indicates healthy trees and a plentiful food supply for the creatures that form the base of the forest food chain.