US (IN): Purdue arboretum promotes independent learning through plant database

The Purdue Arboretum has created an all-encompassing technology for students, faculty and visitors to learn about the varied plants on Purdue’s campus.

Paul Siciliano Jr., a horticulture and landscape architecture professor and the arboretum’s director, described an arboretum as “a collection of woody plant materials like trees and shrubs,” and said the “Purdue arboretum is unique in that the plants were planted for the purpose of landscaping the campus, and nothing else.”

“An important aspect of the project is that the plants are labelled so people will know what they are looking at and will be encouraged to find out more information about the plants,” Siciliano said. “We have such a neat collection ... that we expanded the labelling. There was some labelling and some trails that existed on campus before the idea of an arboretum was conceived. So not only do we now have all the unique types of plants on campus labelled but, unlike before, we have additional information provided by the learning platform.”

The arboretum’s learning platform is in the form of a website that gives people the ability to scan the QR codes of any plant in the arboretum to learn more about the plant, take one of the existing tours of the arboretum, and even create their own tour of their favourite plants and works of art on Purdue’s campus.

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