Tyler’s Historic Trees

Tyler Arboretum is home to several tree species that were either planted by the Painter brothers, or that pre-date them. A handful of our trees are classed as state champions, meaning they are the largest individual specimens of specific species recorded in the state of Pennsylvania.

In March of 1681, just 17 days after King Charles II gave William Penn the colony that would become Pennsylvania, Thomas Minshall, a Quaker gentleman farmer from Cheshire, England, purchased a sizeable tract of land from William Penn.

One hundred and fifty years later, Thomas Minshall’s sixth-generation descendants, Minshall and Jacob Painter, began systematically planting trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants on a parcel of the same land, passed to them through generations and their ancestral farm. In doing so the Painter brothers would set the scene for the place we know today as Tyler Arboretum.

At its peak, the Painter brothers’ collections of plants, shrubs, and trees numbered more than 1,100 specimens, planted in tidy rows that radiated out from the farmhouse.

Today, 20 of these Painter plants are alive and well and in our care, four of which are state champions. Additionally, five native trees from the Painter brothers’ era or possibly earlier also survive.

Trees marked with an asterisk are state champions. Trees marked HN are historic natives.

The Painter trees are:

  • American Linden (Tilia americana)
  • Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) 2 Specimens
  • Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
  • Common Pear (Pyrus communis)
  • Cucumbertree Magnolia (Magnolia acuminata)
  • Fraser Magnolia (Magnolia fraseri)
  • Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum)*
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Leatherleaf Mahonia (Mahonia bealei)
  • Oriental Spruce (Picea orientalis)*
  • Osage-orange (Maclura pomifera)
  • River Birch (Betula nigra)
  • Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) 2 Specimens
  • Switchcane Bamboo (Arundinaria gigantea ssp. tecta)
  • White Oaks (Quercus alba) HN 2 Specimens
  • Yellow Buckeye (Aesculus flava)
  • Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata)