An Accredited Arboretum
In addition to being a cemetery, Bellefontaine is a Level III Accredited Arboretum (one of only 44 in the world!) and is listed in the Morton Register of Arboreta. The mission of the Arboretum at Bellefontaine is to support and enhance the cemetery as a place of perpetual commemoration, and as a garden of beauty, inspiration, and historic significance. Bellefontaine has an accessible and diverse horticultural collection, and has become an important natural sanctuary and habitat for wildlife in the urban environment. In total, there are five accredited arboreta in the St. Louis area as well as the internationally recognized Missouri Botanical Garden, making the region very well represented in the horticultural community.
Bellefontaine’s grounds are home to a vast array of trees and shrubs of local, regional, and international origins providing a changing landscape every season. Over 9,000 trees and shrubs can be found throughout the property represent over 525 distinct species, selections, and varieties.
Unique Species at Bellefontaine
Bellefontaine once had tree state champion trees, including the former state champion shingle oak (109 feet tall with a canopy spread of 96 feet), and the red mulberry, located at the northern end of the cemetery (spread of 57 feet and a circumference of 16 feet).
The diverse collection of trees is focused on species diversity and includes species from around the globe. The paperbark maple, a native of China, has cinnamon-colored bark that peels artfully from its trunk. The osage orange is a native tree that was historically used as a windbreak on countless miles of American fence lines. Early Midwestern settlers once relied on shingle oaks for roof shingles and post oaks for fence posts. The golden rain tree was brought to America from China as a gift to Thomas Jefferson in 1809, and boasts seed pods that resemble paper lanterns.