Heritage Trees

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

sicamore tree in the ArboretumPlatanus occidentalis - Arboretum

Heritage Trees and RBG’s Forests

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 Garden’s properties protect many remarkable trees. The nature sanctuaries contain 400 hectares (1,000 acres) of forest, while the 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 up to 1.5m (5ft) in diameter. On the plateaus, the forests are still young - cleared in the past and allowed to regenerate 60-70 years ago.


The Royal Botanical Gardens properties are filled with remarkable trees. The Royal Botanical Gardens adopted the definition 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

Discover Heritage Trees at RBG

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!


Inventory of large trees and vines focused in the Hamilton and Burlington Area of Ontario with maps and photos.



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

Hiking Map

PDF: 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.


red oak tree with mulched ground, surrounded by roped off barrier

Hendrie Park 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 afford all who come to see and read its story a better understanding of the importance of this tree in our area's history. This oak is the last visible remnant of the original Oak Savannah habitat of this site. To keep the tree healthy for decades more, we're reducing soil compaction and protecting its roots by removing turf, adding mulch and fencing off the Root Protection Zone.

Experience the Nature Sanctuaries

There are lots of ways to get in touch with nature in a manner that is respectful to the species who call them home! Join us for a hike, a paddle, or see what's turning up in the fishway!

boardwalk through forest interior


The nature sanctuaries of RBG are home to 27km of trails. Find your route to stay active, and set aside some time to appreciate nature.

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blue bird on a branch


Royal Botanical Gardens provides easy access to some of the most diverse birding in Ontario.

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RBG ecologist holding out net with fish to visitors


See the marsh and its inhabitants from a new perspective as your guide leads you from one shore of Cootes Paradise to another.

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