• Highlander Arboretum

    Welcome to the Highlander Arboretum

    Home to tree exploration and biodiversity research at Governor Livingston High School


    All tree information is housed on our Plants Map pages. 


    This project began as a brainstorm when Lara Mendenhall visited Arlington National Cemetery with her children. It has continued on as citizen research carried out by many GL students in Environmental Science and Biology classes. In June 2020, we became an accredited arboretum through ArbNet. Read the article here


    The Highlander Arboretum has over 45 identified trees on the beautiful 39-acre Governor Livingston High School campus, more than 20 of which have plaques with QR codes that will take you directly to more information about the tree. Others have numbers that you can use to look them up in our Plants Map pages. We also have numbered trees that have yet to be identified. Try your luck at identifying the trees with taxonomy books or the iNaturalist app.

    At Governor Livingston High School we believe in the importance of preserving and appreciating all that nature has to offer. But why should we care about identifying trees? Read more here (from the New York Times) to learn about why this is an important practice.

    The Numbers

    We have 48 trees in 16 families identified: Rose (13 trees), Magnolia (1), Soapberry (Maple) (8), Dogwood (5), Beech (4), Walnut (1), Cashew (2), Elm (1), Pine (1), Silver Bell (1), Pea (4), Quassia (1), Altingiaceae (1), Birch (3), Laurel (1), and Heath (1). We also have numbered trees that have yet to be identified. 

    Since 2016, GL students have planted 25 native trees on campus, including 13 different species: Flowering Dogwood (4), Black Tupelo (2), Serviceberry (1), American Smoke Tree (1), Carolina Silverbell (1), Chokecherry (4), Eastern Redbud (3), American Sweetgum (1), American Hornbeam (3), Yellowwood (1), Sassafras (2), Flowering Crabapple (1), and Sourwood (1).


    The Highlander Arboretum is maintained by the Environmental Club and Environmental Science students at Governor Livingston High School. It is advised by Lara Mendenhall, Science Teacher and Environmental Club advisor, James Finley, Supervisor of Science, Art, and Computers, and Richard Leister, Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission Chair. 


    Contact Lara Mendenhall and the AP Environmental Science class here: lmendenhall@bhpsnj.org


    A Special Thank You to our Sponsors!

    • The tree plaques were generously funded by a grant from the Governor Livingston High School PTO
    • The Environmental Commission Tree Trust Fund has donated more than 20 trees.  
    • Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has donated four trees through their Arbor Day Tree Planting Program
    • GL Students Meaghan Buckley for creating our beautiful logo and Stephanie Parma our map. 
    • GL Athletic Director Ann Clifton for encouraging us to apply for "official" arboretum status. 
    • Native plant expert Eileen Ferrer for advising on tree and plant selection. 
    • Countless hours have been spent by Richard Leister, James Finley, Brad Elicker, Jim Rutzler, Lara Mendenhall, and the students of GL in creating and maintaining the arboretum. Thank you!

    Arboretum Development Timeline


    • Trees to be identified: #8,10,31,36-42,45,48.



    • We planted a Flowering Dogwood donated by Union County, which unfortunately was damaged over the winter by foraging deer and did not survive. 


    • GL Student Jess Franolic organized the planting of 12 new native trees. Eleven donated by the Environmental Commission Tree Trust Fund (#43,44,72-77) and purchased from Great Swamp Greenhouses, one by Union County (#85), and one by Richard Leister (#71). Unfortunately, we lost one Sassafras over the winter. We also applied for accreditation with ArbNet, unfortunately, we were two trees short. 


    • Two Black Tupelos (#14,#15) were planted along with a Serviceberry (#16). They were donated by the Environmental Commission Tree Trust Fund. The Black Tupelos replaced a 50-year-old Red Oak infected with Leaf Scorch. It was removed the year prior to prevent the bacteria from infecting nearby trees. We also planted a Flowering Dogwood donated by Union County (#9) in commemoration of the first AP Environmental Sciences classes at GL. 


    • Initial tree identification included nearly 25 trees and was completed by GL Student Natalie Calegari, Teacher Jim Rutzler, Berkeley Heights Environmental Commission Chair Richard Leister, and Tree Experts Rich Greenstein, Rick Ostberg, Jerry Petz, and Sandy Ciasco. GL Student Ryan Clark successfully wrote and was awarded a grant from the GL PTO who generously funded the tree plaques for 23 trees. 
    • In that same year, GL Student Joe McLaughlin was motivated to plant new trees after the removal of several Eastern White Pines from our campus. The Environmental Commission Tree Trust Fund donated six native trees that were planted behind the school building in celebration of Arbor Day (#50-55). They were purchased from Halls Garden Center. 

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    Teacher Resources