The Old World

This is where you will be discovering the Eastern side of the Tervuren Arboretum. The groups of trees are all native to Europe or Asia. For those from the Americas, see the Guided Tour (The New World).

The Old World collections are laid out in heterogeneous fashion. Such variety does not make for the easiest of visits. It could be said that there are roughly three types of the groups.

The first type represents groups segregated from one another, scattered among the beech grove. Some will even go completely unnoticed by walkers. Aside from being difficult to access, these groups suffer the added disadvantage of not offering sufficient distance to allow the visitor to step back and admire the tree or the clump of trees in its entirety.

The second type is reminiscent of the layout used in the New World. Extensive glades surround the various woods. These groups are simply magnificent.

The third and final type forms clumps of trees lining the main “Kapucijnendreef”, “Hertedreef” and “Wolvenweg” pathways. The Japanese groups are to be found amongst these.

Some of these groups are of only relative interest (very few in number and inaccessible). Worth mentioning, however, is group 28a in which prevail the Laricio Pine and the Chestnut – emblematic trees from Corsica. Along the edge of the Arboretum, close to the Sneppenlaan, group 21 houses a splendid plantation of Sudetan larches of attractive autumnal colours but only the most persevering visitors will succeed in discovering these.

Groups 27 (Greece), 29 (Andalusia) and 30 (Kabylie) complete this category. Despite the presence of species of interest, these groups can appear to be in an, at times, deplorable state of abandon.

The highlight of a visit to the Old World. If you were to make a loop, by way of the glades, around the wood made up of groups 26, 32, 33 and 34, you will come across some glorious views. With trees upon trees down both sides, you will be spoilt for choice. Among the specimens to be found are:

The Lebanese Cedar (Cedrus Libani). A mythical tree, and the emblem of the Lebanon where it is now practically inexistant. Its wood was allegedly used in the construction of Solomon’s temple. This Cedar can live to 1000 years and some fine specimens are growing along the edge of group 31. The egg-shaped cones are very characteristic. The cedar branches out in a complex manner and often its upper branches spread out horizontally. Its cousin, the Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica) can also be found in group 30.

The Black Austrian Pine (Pinus Nigra). This tall tree is extremely common across the whole of Europe. It takes its name from the dark colour of its needles. Much used in forestry, it includes several sub-species such as the previously mentioned Laricio Pine. The Black Austrian Pine was used as the basis for numerous reforestation operations of which the National Forest of Mont Ventoux is a prime example (the Pinus Nigra takes over from the Atlas Cedar above an altitude of 1100 metres). A fine group of these can be seen in group 31.

Black Austrian Pines in the group 31.

Pinus Sylvestris

The Forest Pine (Pinus Sylvestris). Again, a very common in tree in Europe. This is the much-vaunted “red” pine so widely used in mass-produced furniture. This tree is easily recognisable by its light-coloured bark which is a rusty brown at the base, turning to orange towards the top of the tree. You will come across several of these during your walk.

Carpinus Betulus

The European Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus).
This can also be found virtually everywhere in this part of the Arboretum. It can reach a height of some 30 metres and often forms a sub-tier of the oak groves. Its leaves have prominent veins and are extremely dentate. With its true to type, immediately recognisable catkins, this is a truly attractive tree.

Catskins of the European Hornbeam.

Catalpa Ovata

The Chinese Catalpa (Catalpa Ovata). To the East of group 37a, this small, rather discreet tree has distinctive peculiar long pods (panicules) among its foliage. It is to these that it owes its nickname of the Bean Tree. Its large, light green leaves are heart-shaped.

The Metasequoia (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides). Until recently, this tree was known only in a fossilised state. Very much living specimens were finally discovered in China after World War II. The specimen that can be seen in group 37 is not easy to find as a neighbouring magnolia hides it from view. It has a peculiar trunk. Metasequoia Glyptostroboides Magnolia Denudata The Japanese Magnolia (Magnolia Denudata). A neighbour of the previously mentioned tree (group 37), this magnolia features peculiar fruit and, of course, beautiful foliage. If you visit the New World, you will be able to compare its leaves with those of its American fellow (Magnolia Acuminata) to be found in group 15 (the leaves of the latter are huge !).

The Himalayan Pine (Pinus Wallichiana)

A splendid, slightly tilted, specimen stands at the tip of group 34. This tree is native to the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Its needles form small plumes which sway gently in the slightest breeze. A must see.
Pinus Wallichiana

Pines, firs, spruces, silver birches, maples and lindens are just some of the species of tree that you will find along the edges of the wood. Two suggested itineraries are given in the maps below.

The eastern side of this group is taken up by a small grassy valley that I have nicknamed the “Valley of the Oaks” – an idyllic area which I will describe in more detail further on.

Groups 37 to 40 are laid out in part along the main avenues (Kapucijnendreef and Wolvenweg). These Asian groups feature a few trees which are somewhat exotic in our eyes. Among them let’s mention:

The Sugi (Cryptomeria Japonica). Of the taxodiaceae family, this tree is slightly reminiscent of the Redwood. In Japan it can reach a height of over 80 metres. Its reddish, ligneous bark provides an attractive contrast to its bright green needles.

The Japanese Cypress (Chamaecyparis Obtusa). This is found next to the previously mentioned tree in group 39a and is a sacred tree in Japan. Lining the “Kapucijnendreef” cycle track, group 39 affords a homogeneous and particularly “green” sight.

The "Wolvenweg" and the group 38. The sugis (Cryptomeria Japonica). In group 39... Variety of green in the Japanese groups.

The Japanese groups are also home to several varieties of tsugas (group 38), firs and spruces.


This magical grassland through which runs a small brook and which is studded with hundred-year old oaks provides an imposing sight whatever the season.

The Valley of the Oaks.

Making up the boundaries of this area are groups 37 (China), 26 and 32 to the West; the "Kapucijnendreef" to the South and the wooded hill to the East where the "Wolvenweg" moves away.

To the North, three Bald Cypress trees mark the edge of the small valley and herald the presence of the marshlands beyond them where the Voer (the river from which Tervuren takes its name) originates.
Three Bald Cypress, guardians of the marshlands.

The Taxodium Distichum, though, is a tree belonging to the New World whose presence here could be seen as strange. Indeed, further specimens grow in group 17 (Tennessee). This is because this tree is typical of the marshlands of the South-East of the U.S.A. : the Louisiana bayous etc. (where it is know as the bearded tree because of the mosses which hang from its branches).

Thus, it is perfectly natural to come across it here close to the marshes.

Bald Cypress in group 17.

But, I digress. So coming back to our small valley, those few oaks which grow there in isolation have each benefited from sufficient space to allow them to develop freely. A fascinating result…

The Valley of the Oaks. Close Up A beautiful oak at the end of the summer.

An enticing perspective? Further photos available here.

For itineraries in the New World

The first sets off from the Ringlaan and allows a full visit of the Old World. Leave the river on your left and walk up the “Hertedreef” until you have passed group 31 (located to the left of the path). Turn into the glade on the left and walk down between groups 31 and 32. Once at the bottom, following a narrowing of the glade, turn right and walk along the edge of group 32 then, on the right, take the glade which rises again between groups 26 and 37. At the end of this glade you will find yourself once more on the Hertedreef which you will follow, bearing left, until it crosses the Kapucijnendreef at which point turn left. The pathway leads between groups 39 on the right and 37 on the left. At the bottom, before the crossing with the “Wolvenweg”, descend to the left into the glade (the “Valley of the Oaks”) and walk alongside the brook the length of the glade. A fairly wide path passes to the right of the marshes – take this path alongside them until you reach the exit of the Arboretum. You are back to where you started. You might be glad you brought your Wellingtons! Print version

The second itinerary, setting off from the Sneppenlaan, is shorter but you will miss out on the groups in the “Kapucijnendreef”. Go down the “Wolvenweg” alongside group 38 until you reach the crossing with the “Kapucijnendreef”. Past the crossing, go right into the glade (Valley of the Oaks). Continue alongside the edge of group 37 on your left. Turn left between groups 37 and 26. The glade goes up to the “Hertedreef” which you take on your right and continue alongside groups 34 and 33 on your right. At the bottom, and past the narrowing of the glade, turn right again. Walk alongside the brook and cross the small valley until you are back where you started, i.e. at the “Wolvenweg-Kapucijnendreef” crossing. Continue up the Wolvenweg until you reach the exit of the Arboretum. Print version

Clicking on your chosen itinerary will display the corresponding map.

Display itinerary 1.

Display itinerary 2.
Pass or click on the two numbers left to display two walks in the park.

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