Wilbur D. May Arboretum & Botanic Garden History

A long time ago...

The Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden is located inside Rancho San Rafael Park at 1595 N Sierra Street in Reno Nevada. It was established over thirty years ago by the Wilbur May Foundation. Over the years the Arboretum has grown from its initial 3 acres to its current size of 13 acres – complete with 94 small gardens, groves and water features. More than 100,000 visitors pass through its gates annually.

The Arboretum is home to over 4,600 native and adaptive plants, 1,700 trees and 185 different tree species – gracing the paths and walkways of the gardens. Combined there are over 250 species of trees and shrubs with over 30 species of conifers and 20 different species of oaks. The variety and assortment of plants attracts nearly 55 different bird species. It is said that the May Arboretum is probably the most plant diverse area in northern Nevada.

Complete with over 2 acres of winding paths, the gardens offer the beleaguered urbanite a place of solace and peace. To plant enthusiasts it is treasured for expanding their plant knowledge. It also serves as an outdoor laboratory for children and adults – a place for schools to come and study their natural world and native surroundings.

The Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Garden has been a member of the American Public Garden Association since 2008 and is a certified Level II Arboretum through the ArbNet Program administered by the Morton Arboretum of Registered Arboreta located in Lisle, Illinois.

What’s an Arboretum?

/ ˌär-bə-ˈrē-təm/

A place where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific and educational purposes

What’s a Botanical Garden?

/buh-tan-i-kuh l gahr-dn/

A garden dedicated to the collection, cultivation and display of a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names.

What’s the Wilbur D. May Arboretum
& Botanical Garden?

A high-desert collection of trees, shrubs and flowers representing the Transitional Zone between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. It is located at an elevation of 4,600 feet. Plants that grow in this botanical area adapt to a challenging environment that averages only seven inches of precipitation each year, daily temperature variations of 50 degrees or more, and a growing season of approximately 100 days.