The pinetum began with Dr. Robert Lovett’s enthusiasm for conifers. On 14 acres near Springfield, Missouri, he began experimenting with planting several different species of pine starting in 1970 and continuing through today.
In 1997, desiring to expand the collection, the Lovett Pinetum Charitable Foundation was formed with the primary mission of creating preserves of many conifer species and the development of practical methods of establishing sustainable conifer collections outside their normal geographic ranges. Dr. Lovett donated his original property to the pinetum and additional properties were purchased to expand the climate areas represented in our collection.
Our mission has expanded to include all conifer species and other gymnosperms and multiple regions. At present the pinetum is comprised of 188 acres across three different sites in Missouri, Texas, and California. Our conifer collection contains over 3000 trees covering more than 300 varieties.
Our home is at the Pearson Creek site in Missouri which has been expanded to 108 acres. Additional sites are the Angelina site in Texas and the Alder Springs site in California. Angelina was purchased starting in 1998 and now includes 43 acres in Angelina County in southeast Texas. Alder Springs includes 37 acres on the west slope of the Sierra Nevadas near the Alder Springs community and is primarily a conservation area of native California conifers.
Beginning in 1970, the original 14 acres at Pearson Creek were planted in pine trees. Early plantings included loblolly, shortleaf and eastern white pine. Some of these are now over 90 feet tall. In this area there are currently about 23 species and subspecies of pine. Over 80 species have been tested at various locations in this area of the pinetum with varying degrees of success. The great majority of successful pines are from North America.
One of the key features of the original pinetum is Danforth Spring. This is the largest of the two springs at the pinetum. Springs such as this are one of the defining features of our area but many have been lost or covered over by development. Sadly, before being acquired by Dr. Lovett, much of the Danforth Spring had been filled with garbage and other debris by previous owners but after a great deal of cleanup, the spring now looks much as it did over a hundred years ago.
The first major expansion of Pearson Creek came in 2007 with the purchase of the property north of the pinetum. In this area, the Pinetum began trialing conifers of all potential genera. Some pines that have previously proven unsuccessful are being planted again because the greatly expanded area provides for more diverse planting sites. In 2016, another adjacent property was added to Pearson Creek to complete the present property.
Starting in 1998, the Lovett Pinetum purchased the first property that would become the Angelina site. Here the collection includes a number of species that cannot survive the colder winters of Missouri. Taiwania, Keteleeria and Sequoia are some of the genera we grow only here but there are also several species of pine and cypress that we have only at Angelina.
In 1998, a property was purchased near the Alder Springs summer home community which is located about 50 miles northeast of Fresno, California. Being situated on the western edge of the Sierra National Forest, this site already had indigenous digger pine, ponderosa pine, sugar pine, and concolor fir. Despite the heavy logging that occurred in the Sierras in the early 1900′s, there are a few mature examples of each of these species at Alder Springs. The property is situated on the dividing point between the San Joaquin River (to the North) and the Kings River (to the South) drainage basins.
A small experimental planting of western U.S. species was done in November 1998. Although there has been a high survival rate in this initial planting, many of the trees are not actually thriving. Present plans are to concentrate our effort on growing endemic conifers at Alder Springs.