In 1903, Dr. William Chambers Coker, the university’s first professor of botany, began developing a five-acre boggy pasture into an outdoor university classroom for the study of trees, shrubs, and vines native to North Carolina. Beginning in the 1920s and continuing through the 1940s, Dr. Coker added many East Asian trees and shrubs. These species, closely related counterparts to many North Carolina native plants, enhanced the beauty and educational value of the Arboretum. Examples of conifers and extensive displays of daffodils and daylilies are located here as well.
The Arboretum’s main entrance off Cameron Avenue was reconstructed in 1998 as a gift by the Class of 1997.
The Arboretum is one of several gardens managed by the university’s North Carolina Botanical Garden.