In cooperation with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, the Forestry Board formally opened the Centennial Park Arboretum. On Friday, 26 April 2001, a bright and sunny morning, a goodly crowd gathered to witness the opening of the Arboretum, and to take part in the ceremonies. County Executive Jim Robey presided and announced the official opening. 



Centennial park was planned in 1965 as a reservoir for flood protection. The original lake was created as a flood control measure as part of the regional storm water management system.

The design for the park was completed in 1976 and by 1978 the major parcels of land were acquired. Construction began in the eighties, and the final park was dedicated on June 13, 1987.

Centennial park contains 325 acres with a central lake of 50 acres. Over four miles of paved pathways are maintained, along with nine paved pavilions, tennis and basketball facilities, a boat ramp and dock. The lake is stocked with Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Sunfish annually.

In 1989 the park received the 1989 Merit Award for Innovative Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects. In that same year it received the 1989 Excellence on the Waterfront Award from the Waterfront Center.

Maintained by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, the park is open from dawn to dusk, and is a popular site in Howard County for strolling, walking, cycling and skating. Its recreation facilities are in great demand, and it is a prime site for picnics and other gatherings throughout the year.


Trees at Centennial Park

In addition to providing lakeside recreational opportunities, Centennial Lake has a fine collection of both native and exotic trees and shrubs. Each tree below is linked to its Arbor Tag which describes the distinguishing features of the species. Those pages can be used to make your own laminated tree tags. 

American Beech Fagus americana
Amur Corktree Phellodendron amurense
Autumn Olive Elaeagnus umbellata
American Basswood Tilia americana
Bay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana
Black Cherry Prunus serotina
Black Locust Robina pseudoacacia
Black Oak Quercus velutina
Black Walnut Juglans nigra
Black Willow Salix nigra
Blackgum Nyssa silvatica
Boxelder Acer negundo
Crabapple Malus coronaria
Colorado Spruce Picea pungens
Dogwood Cornus florida
Flowering Cherry Prunus serrulata
Gray Birch Betula populifolia
Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Hemlock Tsuga canadensis
Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos
American Hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana
Kousa Dogwood Cornus kousa
London Plane Tree Platanus x acerifolia
Mimosa Albizia julibrissin
Osage Orange Maclura pomifera
Persimmon Diospyros virginiana
Pignut Hickory Carya glabra
Pin Oak Quercus palustris
Redbud Cercis canadensis
Red Maple Acer rubrum
Red Oak Quercus rubra
Sassafras Sassafras albidum
Japanese Pagoda Tree Sophora japonica
Slippery Elm Ulmus rubra
Snowbell Styrax japonica
Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua
Sycamore Platanus occidentalis
Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera
Weeping Birch Betula pendula
White Ash Fraxinus americana
White Mulberry Morus alba
White Pine Pinus strobus
White Oak Quercus alba
Willow Oak Quercus phellos
Witch Hazel Hamamelis virginiana


While there are many special varieties, this is the site of one of the few venerable Post Oaks (Quercus stellata) in the County.

The leaves are 4-6 inches long and are shiny dark green and slightly roughened. The middle lobes are characteristically broad and per- pendicular to the main leafstem. This often gives the impression of a cross.

The acorns are usually less than an inch long, and the cap covers almost half of the fruit. This acorn has a very short stalk or is even stalkless. The Post Oak can grow up to 70 feet with a trunk diameter of up to 24 inches. Its bark is reddish brown with narrow vertical ridges. With a wide rounded crown, it often hangs on to dead branches like the Scarlet Oak.

Used in the early part of the twentieth century as railroad ties, the Post Oak is a sturdy wood. Its common name is derived from its use as fence posts, and its Latin name suggests the Maltese cross or star shape of its leaves. Charles Sprague Sargent identified many different varieties of this tree throughout the Southeast.


Centennial Park is located near Route 108 and Route 29 in Howard County. The park is open from dawn to dusk, and the Post Oak is located near the north-east corner of the lake. See Google Maps for directions.