Parks and Open Space

Education, Research, Conservation

The Arboretum’s mission is education, research, conservation, and to demonstrate how introduced plant species and native plants grow in a high desert environment.


Here at the May Arboretum we believe in having diverse programming to meet the needs of the community and educators.  We have ongoing programs visitors can utilize during any visit, like the Naturalist Program, or specialty programs for families on the weekends, such as Wilbur’s Explorer Pack.  To meet the varying age groups in the community, we have Little Sprouts for ages 2-5, and thanks to dedicated volunteers, Good Nature! Walking Tours for Older Adults (50 +).  Teachers can expect hands on learning experiences during Discover the Arboretum Station Tour as students explore watershed health, native plants, ancient trees and much more.  No matter the age or interest, there is something to learn at the May Arboretum.


Due to being in a high desert environment, any introduced plant species is an informal research project in the field of phenology.  Phenology is the study of plant or animal species in relation to the climate.  Since the first planting in 1984-1985, native and introduced plants have flourished at the May Arboretum due to the dedicated work of staff and volunteers.  In the fall of 2017, a 3,500 sq. ft. greenhouse was completed that will support our efforts in the research of native and introduced plants in the Great Basin region.


The May Arboretum has always maintained a goal of incorporating endangered and threatened plant species, like the Gingko tree, into garden layouts.  With the completion of the greenhouse in 2017, a new era of conservation will take effect.  Now equipped with the resources to grow plants on site, we utilize sustainable growing practices and are able to meet the needs of the May Arboretum for years to come.  

Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »
Call 311 to find resources, ask questions, and utilize Washoe County services. Learn More »