Trees at Linda Hall Library

A Kansas City Treasure

The Arboretum at Linda Hall Library is home to hundreds of majestic trees, including several Greater Kansas City Champion Trees. The library was established in 1946 through the philanthropy of Linda (1859-1938) and Herbert Hall (1858-1941). Some of the larger trees were growing here when the library was established, as they were part of the Hall’s original home grounds.

Today Linda Hall Library is among the largest science libraries in the world. Located at 5109 Cherry in Kansas City, this world class library sits in the middle of 14 acres which have, over the past 65 years, been transformed and groomed into an excellent arboretum. The grounds surrounding the library are home to 350 trees representing 147 species. Many of these trees are large, some are rare, and all are fine representatives of their species. Black metal tree stakes neatly mark all of the trees, giving the common name, scientific name and an identification number. The way the trees have been cared for throughout the years is one of the endearing factors that frequently gives me cause to spend several hours, at different times of the year, in the Arboretum at Linda Hall Library.

A large Double Flowered Horse Chestnut grows just a hundred feet from the NE corner of the main building. Deserving of a good scientific name such as Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Baumannii’ this 80’ tall magnificent tree was first identified in Geneva, Switzerland in 1819 and planted at Linda Hall in 1956. The double white flowers are in upright panicles and are showy later and longer then most other trees in this family. Baumannii does not produce fruit, which is a plus, as most members of the buckeyes or horse chestnut family are messy, dropping their fruit and hulls to the ground. The light green leaves usually have seven leaflets in a fan or palm-like shape. Autumn leaf colors are shades of yellow or light brown. Four other varieties of Buckeye grow large and strong on the Linda Hall Library grounds. A 60’ tall Western or Ohio Buckeye is at the entrance as you drive in.

The Greater Kansas City Champion Loose-flower Hornbeam lives on the south side of the Linda Hall Library. This medium size tree is endangered in its native lands of Japan and Korea. The Loose-flower Hornbeam, Carpinus laxiflora, has grown to 30’ tall with an upright, rounded growth habit. It will eventually have some slightly drooping branches at maturity. Loose-flower Hornbeam prefers full sun or high-canopy shade. The fruit of this Hornbeam as well as the fruits of the other species of Hornbeam are in 2” long pendulous clusters. European Hornbeam and American Hornbeam also grow well and can be seen in front of the two main library buildings.

The beautiful Hardy Rubber Tree, Eucommia ulmoides, growing in the SE corner of the arboretum is already 35’ tall and is expected to grow to 50’ as it ages. This unusual tree has male flowers only in very early spring, so will not produce any seed. There is not a female Hardy Rubber Tree at Linda Hall Library, but you can see one in Loose Park, which is only a few blocks west.

Several species of conifers are thriving at Linda Hall. There are 30 giant Austrian Pine, mostly 60-plus feet tall now, scattered throughout the arboretum. They were planted in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The lower 40’ of limbs were removed years ago, which greatly reduces the possibility that they will be subject to the fungus that is currently killing many of the two-needle pines in our area.

Six different species of Linden trees, or as we Americans call them, Basswood trees, are planted in the Linda Hall arboretum. Several of the plantings have groups of trees of the same species or families planted within close range, making them easy to compare. Silver Pendent Linden was planted in 1962 and today is over 60’ tall. The back of the leaves of Silver Pendent are covered with short, soft, silvery hairs. The large Cutleaf Linden has outgrown the other lindens and is close to 70’ tall. These Linden trees have matured into worldly specimens that clearly show the features of each tree.

If you like oak trees you will love the 35 varieties, hybrids and species of giant oaks at Linda Hall Library. The great oaks are thriving here and showing why they may well be the national tree of the United States. Some of the hybrid oaks are grafted and growing well. The native oaks such as Post Oak, Pin Oak, Swamp Chestnut Oak, Red Oak, Shumard Oak, and several others are strong trees with mighty trunks that are so large it takes two people to reach around them. A rare Willowleaf English Oak grows on the far north edge of the library grounds. It has odd looking bluish colored leaves and a slow-growing rounded canopy. The fruit is a long thin acorn on a long petiole. Planted about 20 years ago, this Willowleaf English Oak alone is worth a tree enthusiast’s trip to the arboretum.

More information is available online at the Linda Hall website (www.lindahall.org/arboretum), showing the location of trees and information about each. There is no entry fee to the arboretum or the library.


Ken O’Dell is a longtime volunteer at the Overland Park Arboretum. Ken is the Kansas City Regional Leader of The Kansas Native Plant Society and a frequent visitor at Linda Hall Library Arboretum. 


To view additional images of trees, visit the online version of the September 2017 issue at KCGMAG.com.

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