Coker Arboretum

ArbNet level 2 badgeCoker Arboretum is at the center of one of the most beautiful university campuses in the nation: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Managed by the North Carolina Botanical Garden, it is one of the Garden's oldest tracts.

Photo of path in spring


In 1903, Dr. William Chambers Coker, the University's first Professor of Botany and the first chair of the University Buildings and Grounds Committee, 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. Today the collection consists of a wide variety of plantings including flowering trees and shrubs as well as bulb and perennial displays. The Arboretum has something unique to offer during every season of the year.

In April of 2003, the Arboretum celebrated its 100th Anniversary with exhibits and activities all over the University's campus and Chapel Hill. Part of the celebration was the production of an art book, A Haven in the Heart of Chapel Hill: Artists Celebrate the Coker Arboretum, which depicts the scenes and specimens as though one were on a walking tour of this special garden (see sidebar). The book makes a wonderful gift for anyone acquainted with the Arboretum, and the proceeds of its sale go toward ensuring the garden's care in the future.

Visiting the Coker Arboretum

The Arboretum is open dawn to dusk daily, year-round. Coker Arboretum is located next to the Morehead Planetarium & Science Center on the UNC campus, at the corner of Country Club Road and Raleigh Street. (For GPS navigation, enter the address 399 E. Cameron Avenue, Chapel Hill.)

A limited amount of metered parking is available on Raleigh Street and there are a few visitors' spaces in the Morehead Planetarium paid parking lot (stay on Franklin St. instead of turning at Raleigh St., and the lot is on the left). If no spaces are available in these areas, there is metered parking available on Franklin Street and paid parking lots along Rosemary Street (from Raleigh Street, going north away from Cameron Avenue, go past Franklin Street and turn left onto Rosemary Street).

Visitors to the Arboretum can refer to interpretive brochures, stored in marked storage boxes at several locations, to guide their walks through this historic site. Parents and teachers can download the Kid's Scavenger Hunt worksheet [PDF] to provide an exciting pedagogical activity.

Coker Arboretum in Fall

Become a Friend of Coker Arboretum

If you're interested in supporting the Coker Arboretum through a donation or endowment, download the Friends of Coker Arboretum form [PDF] and mail it to us.


The Coker Arboretum is now booking weddings (Note: ceremony only; no receptions). Please review the Policies and Procedures [PDF] before contacting Arboretum staff. If you have additional questions or want to book your wedding, please contact the Events Manager, who will provide you with an application.

More About Trees of the UNC Campus

photo of tree

Thanks to the efforts of Patrick Brandt, Director of Science, Training, and Diversity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we are pleased to provide this online map with photos and information on trees of the UNC-CH campus—a campus known and appreciated for its trees. This self-guided tour of the arboreal heritage of UNC's Chapel Hill campus can either be enjoyed from the comfort of your home/office computer or as a smart phone-enabled walking tour. The tour is paper-free and uses Google Maps to point out the locations of over 100 species of trees. There are more than 300 photos of the actual trees taken on site, plus links in the notes section that provide species-specific information from Wikipedia. Almost all trees are identified with metal plaques at their base or on their trunk.

Take the TOUR.

Brandt developed the tour from an 80-page guide, "Noble Grove: A walking Tour of Campus Trees," written by Michael Dirr, nationally known horticulturist and professor emeritus of horticulture at the University of Georgia. This book is available for purchase at the North Carolina Botanical Garden's Garden Shop and at UNC Student Stores.

Updated on March 02, 2016 at 03:11:55 pm.