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Heritage Trees

The cultivated gardens and nature sanctuaries of Royal Botanical Gardens are home to over 20 individuals classified as “heritage trees.”

Our heritage trees are generally chosen for their old age and large size, but in some instances by their appearance or cultural significance. As a National Historic Site, the Gardens’ properties protect many remarkable trees.

Nature sanctuaries contain 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of forest, while horticultural areas have nearly 4000 specimens. The mature forest resides within the many deep ravines and represents both Carolinian and Mixed (mixed = deciduous and coniferous) forest types, with over 70 species and trees measuring up to 1.5m (5ft) in diameter.

  • Hendrie Heritage Oak Summer
  • White Oak Tree in Forest
  • Measuring Large Trunk of Tulip Tree
  • Tree Trunk In Forest
  • Sicamore Tree Arboretum

Discover Heritage Trees

The cultivated gardens and nature sanctuaries of Royal Botanical Gardens are home to many individuals classified as “heritage trees,” many of the wild native ones viewable from public nature trails. See the resources below to help you find them on your next visit!

iNaturalist: Tree Inventory

View this digital inventory of large trees and vines focused in the Hamilton and Burlington Area of Ontario with maps and photos.

Heritage Trees Trail Walk

These trees form a hike starting at the RBG nature centre in the Arboretum, following the Captain Cootes trail, and the Bulls Point Trail. Find the trail route using Geotrail!

Heritage Trees of Royal Botanical Gardens

Along with the size and location of the trees, we have listed the carbon storage and its equivalent released by the average North American car in kilometers driven.

What is a Heritage Tree?

Royal Botanical Gardens properties are filled with remarkable trees. RBG adopted the definition of “Heritage Tree” as first proposed by Professor Paul Aird, Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, as written up in The Forestry Chronicle in 2005. This definition found below is closely allied with the heritage designation concepts in the Ontario Heritage Act. There is no further legal standing provided to trees defined as “Heritage Trees” within Royal Botanical Gardens lands as these trees are already protected under the RBG Act and associated policies and bylaws. The goal of the designation is to highlight trees for education, conservation, and/or management purposes.

A “Heritage Tree” is a tree having one, or more, of the following characteristics:

  • A notable specimen because of its size, form, shape, beauty, age, colour, rarity, genetic constitution, or other distinctive features
  • A living relic that displays evidence of cultural modification by Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal people, including strips of bark or knot-free wood removed, test hole cut to determine soundness, furrows cut to collect pitch or sap, or blazes to mark a trail
  • A prominent community landmark
  • A specimen associated with a historic person, place, event or period
  • A representative of a crop grown by ancestors and their successors that is at risk of disappearing from cultivation
  • A tree associated with local folklore, myths, legends, or traditions

Hendrie Park Heritage Red Oak Project

Visitors to RBG’s Hendrie Park will experience a new look to an old friend. The large Hendrie Park Red Oak, located between the Global Garden and our new sustainable Rose Garden, has been given some tender loving care in efforts to preserve its legacy and tell its story. This oak is the last visible remnant of the original Oak Savannah habitat of this site. To keep the tree healthy, we’re reducing soil compaction and protecting its roots by removing turf, adding mulch and fencing off the Root Protection Zone.

Support Conservation at RBG

These conservation projects are possible thanks to the generous support of RBG Members and donors. With a donation to Growing up Green, you can ensure an active, vibrant and healthy future for the children of today and tomorrow through our horticultural and conservation projects.

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.