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An arboretum (plural: arboreta) in a general sense is a botanical collection composed exclusively of trees.

More commonly a modern arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants and is intended at least in part for scientific study.

An arboretum specializing in growing conifers is known as a pinetum.

The term arboretum was first used in an English publication by John Claudius Loudon in 1833 in The Gardener's Magazine but the concept was already long-established by then.

Related collections include a fruticetum (from the Latin frutex, meaning shrub) and a viticetum (from the Latin vitis, meaning vine, referring in particular to a grape vine).

Egyptian Pharaohs planted exotic trees and cared for them; they brought ebony wood from the Sudan, and pine and cedar from Syria.

Hatshepsut's expedition to Punt returned bearing thirty-one live frankincense trees, the roots of which were carefully kept in baskets for the duration of the voyage; this was the first recorded attempt to transplant foreign trees.

It is reported that Hatshepsut had these trees planted in the courts of her Deir el Bahri mortuary temple complex.

Arboreta are special places for the cultivation and display of a wide variety of different kinds of trees and shrubs (that is ligneous plants).

Many tree collections have been claimed as the first arboretum, in most cases, however, the term has been applied retrospectively as it did not come into use until the later eighteenth century.

Arboreta differ from pieces of woodland or plantations because they are botanically significant collections with a variety of examples rather than just a few kinds.

Of course there are many tree collections that are much older than the eighteenth century in different parts of the world.

Probably the most important early proponent of the arboretum in the English-speaking transatlantic world was the prolific landscape gardener and writer, John Claudius Loudon (1783–1843) who undertook many gardening commissions and published the Gardener's Magazine, Encyclopaedia of Gardening and other major works.

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