Woods of the World
Smith College Lyman Plant House
Do you know what the inside of a pine tree looks like? How about the inside of something far less common, like a plum, yew, or gum tree? Get an inside look at all of these trees (and over a hundred more!) at Woods of the World, a fascinating permanent exhibit at the Smith College Botanical Garden’s Lyman Plant House in Northampton, MA.
Woods of the World (also known as WoW) features panels of wood from over 170 trees from all around the world. The panels cover a section of the plant house’s walls, ceiling, and floor and are representative of a diverse group of tree species from all over the world. By visiting this intimate hallway exhibit, families can learn about the uses for and origins of many types of wood, revealing wood grains in all shapes and patterns; while none of the panels have been stained, some have changed shades slowly over time, further expanding the exhibit’s range of colors.
Visitors to the exhibit can use a key, along with numbers on each panel, in order to determine what type of wood each panel represents. A handful of informational displays share information on the shapes and patterns of wood grains, and how examination of a tree’s grain can be used to learn about the tree and its life. The exhibit also offers information on the American elm tree, a species decimated by Dutch Elm Disease. In addition, the exhibits cork flooring is accompanied by information on cork which is, much to the surprise of many children, derived from a cork tree…
While a visit to the exhibit can help students learn about dendrology (the study of trees), its true purpose is to promote sustainable forestry, as such practices will help to ensure that the numerous species represented in the exhibit remain available for use by generations to come (not to mention the role that their preservation plays in sustaining forest ecosystems around the world!).
Read more about Woods of the World in the Spring 200 edition of Botanic Garden News.
The Lyman Plant House is open from 8:30am-4pm daily and is located at 16 College Lane on the Smith College Campus in Northampton, MA. For more information, contact the Botanical Garden at 413-585-2740.