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U.S. Department of Agriculture

Arboretum Botanical Explorer Revitalized at the U.S. National Arboretum

In 2012, the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) launched its Arboretum Botanical Explorer (ABE), giving both first-time visitors and advanced researchers a unique opportunity to explore its massive collections from anywhere in the world. This explorer replaced the Arboretum’s legacy system with a web-mapping application powered by ArcGIS, allowing users to search the collections and get information on specific plant records.

Arboretum Botantical Explorer

To coincide with the retirement of Adobe Flash Player and to keep relevant in modern browsers for years to come, USNA took the opportunity to make enhancements to the app. The application was redeveloped in JavaScript from its original Apache Flex framework. Special considerations ensure that the new ABE retained all features present in its first iteration, while creating a fresh new design. Visitors and researchers will still be able to use the application to search plants by common and scientific name, see where mapped plants are located, turn on Collection and Garden areas, and view visitor amenities such as parking and restroom locations in preparation for their trip. Users may also choose to take a guided tour of the application to better understand all the capabilities offered.

Part of the ABE redesign increased emphasis on the Arboretum’s photo collections. Visitors to the site are now greeted with a photo gallery. Selecting a photo will zoom the map to the plant location and show a wealth of information about the origin.

USNA ABE Photo Search

Expanding the available search options was another goal of the ABE redesign. In addition to the photo gallery, users of the application have more advanced choices in how to explore the collections. Experienced researchers and enthusiasts alike may use the new Structured Search to query the database by collector name, garden/bed location, and even life cycle traits. Searching on multiple attributes of a plant or species helps users narrow down the large collection. For users just looking to explore, updated map symbology and the Browse Plants Search help to quickly find the results of all records in a species.

Arboretum Structured Search

And of course, once visitors are onsite they can download the USNA Mobile App from the app stores and explore the specimens, active exhibits, and tours with ease.

To view the U.S. National Arboretum’s new Botanical Explorer, visit

Going Mobile at U.S. National Arboretum!

Blue Raster developed and launched a new mobile application for The United States National Arboretum, giving scientists and visitors a unique experience and new way of exploring the research grounds. The National Arboretum is a division of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the main in-house research arm of USDA. This mobile app for Apple and Android builds off of the online Botanical Explorer tool (ABE) released in 2012.

One of Washington, D.C’s hidden treasures, the National Arboretum receives over 500,000 visitors annually. Covering over 440 acres and 9.5 miles of roads, this public garden is a living museum and center for major botanical research and public education.

Built using Esri’s AppStudio for ArcGIS, the application is available for free download in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

Arboretum Mobile app

The mobile app allows users to locate themselves on the grounds, easily find information about ongoing exhibits, as well as locate visitor services such as parking, restrooms and water fountains. Roam the grounds freely or take advantage of many pre-defined tours sized just right for the time you have, complete with individual stops, photos and descriptions.

For those looking to dig even deeper, individual plants records are displayed on the map and searchable by Name or Accession Number, and extensive scientific data are included for much of the collection.

Arboretum Mobile app

Whether an avid explorer, a researcher or a first-time visitor, this interactive mobile application goes beyond the paper map to offer a unique experience for all users to investigate and learn more about the Arboretum than ever before.

National Arboretum Launches Explorer for Touring and Research

With over 440 acres of trees, shrubs and plants, as well as a massive collection of plant records and specimens, the U.S. National Arboretum can be an overwhelming place for first-time visitors and skilled researchers alike.  Beginning this month, however, guests can plan their Arboretum visit in advance using a new web mapping application developed by Blue Raster.  Arboretum Botanical Explorer (ABE) will allow visitors to investigate the Arboretum grounds and collections through a searchable database and interactive maps.

Working with the National Arboretum and its parent agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Blue Raster replaced the Arboretum’s legacy system with an ArcGIS Server geodatabase to manage their collection.  A custom application was then developed that enables users to access and display information from the Arboretum’s botanical collection, maintained in BG-Base, and its photo repository in Asset Bank.  The collection includes more than 30,000 plant records and information on more than 60,000 specimens (plant leaf or cutting).

“The National Arboretum is excited to offer a web-based application that makes its extensive collections searchable online for the first time,” said Education and Visitor Services Unit Leader, Nancy Luria.  “ABE brings together the Arboretum’s plant records and image databases into a single, user-friendly system that  researchers and visitors alike can use to map specific plants and to plan a visit.  It provides a rich platform for sharing information and images with the public that will greatly increase the Arboretum’s outreach efforts.”

To prepare for their trip to the Arboretum, visitors and researchers can use the application to create maps that show the location of specific plants on the grounds, as well as points of interest, dedicated trees and benches, special collections and amenities.  Visitors can explore the interactive maps of the Arboretum’s featured tours of cherry trees and herb gardens, and learn details about each plant on the tour.  Researchers, horticulturists, and visitors can use the application to create reports with photos and attributes of the specific plants they are studying.  To view the National Arboretum’s Botanical Explorer, visit

Explore the U.S. National Arboretum