The Morton Arboretum is a magnificent outdoor museum with a mission to collect and study trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world, to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our environment. Our goal is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. The Arboretum ranks among the leading arboretums of the world in size, age, quality of specimens, and programs in Plant Collections, Science and Conservation, and Education.
History: Established in 1922 by Mr. Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company and son of J. Sterling Morton, the originator of Arbor Day, the Arboretum has grown to include 1,700 acres of plant collections and gardens amid spectacular natural landscapes of woodlands, prairie, lakes, and streams.
Plant Collections: The Arboretum grows and displays a rich diversity of trees, shrubs, and other plants that are Collections evaluated for their suitability for the midwestern United States. These living collections include 222,000 plant specimens representing 4,650 different kinds of plants. Arranged by geographic, taxonomic, and other special groupings, the collections are enhanced by restored natural areas of native plants.
Science and Conservation: The Research Program focuses on practical scientific studies; key areas include tree health, tree Conservation improvement, and woodland conservation. Housed in the state-of-the-art Research Center is a Herbarium with a collection of 200,000 dried specimens for botanical research. The Chicago Region Trees Initiative develops strategies for tree and urban forest improvement; the Community Trees program advocates for trees in 274 communities in seven counties. ArbNet, facilitated by The Morton Arboretum, is an interactive professional community of arboreta with programs to foster advancements among tree-focused gardens. Science and conservation initiatives address international needs to build partnerships and save endangered trees.
Education: The Education Program is relevant to needs and interests in learning about plants, nature, and ways to improve our world. Through the Thornhill Education Center, classes and other offerings for adults, youth and family, and schools and scouts serve 47,000 participants, with 646 schools partaking of field, lab, and outreach programs. Also available are teacher-training resources and a cooperative botany degree program with regional colleges and universities. The Sterling Morton Library contains collections of 27,000 volumes on botany, horticulture, natural history, and ecology; rare books, periodicals, and catalogs; and 12,000 botanical artworks. The Plant Clinic answers inquiries from 536 zip codes about plant selection and care.