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Chicago Botanic Garden

United States of America - Illinois - Glencoe

Institution Code: CHIC

International Agenda Registration: Y
BGCI Member: Y

The Chicago Botanic Garden's Lake Enhancement Program continues to improve water quality, heal eroded shorelines, and enrich aquatic habitat in its 60-acre system of lakes.  The Gardens of the Great Basin, completed in 2002, greatly expanded its aquatic plant collection to include tens of thousands of aquatic plants native to Illinois.
The Chicago Botanic Garden's Lake Enhancement Program continues to improve water quality, heal eroded shorelines, and enrich aquatic habitat in its 60-acre system of lakes. The Gardens of the Great Basin, completed in 2002, greatly expanded its aquatic plant collection to include tens of thousands of aquatic plants native to Illinois.

About the Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden, with its world-renowned plant collections and displays, is one of the country’s most visited public gardens and a preeminent center for learning and scientific research. The Garden features 23 display gardens and three native habitats, uniquely situated on nine islands surrounded by lakes. The 385-acre living museum is owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and managed by the Chicago Horticultural Society.

The Garden is open every day of the year, except Christmas, from 8 a.m. until sunset. The Garden is located on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe, one-half mile east of the Edens Expressway. Admission is free; select event fees apply. Parking is $15. On Tuesdays, senior citizens age 62 and older pay just $7 for parking.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a BGCI Patron Institution, and hosts BGCI's U.S. office. The Garden is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member of the American Public Gardens Association, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Chicago Wilderness, and the Center for Plant Conservation.

Main Address:
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Illinois 60022 United States of America

Telephone: (847) 835-5440
Fax: (847) 835-4484
Primary Email:

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Sophia Shaw, President and CEO
    Curator's Name: Andrew Bell, Curator of Woody Plants
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Boyce Tankersley, Director of Living Plant Documentation
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 57
    Educational Staff Number: 44
    Research Staff Number: 39
    Administration Staff Number: 23

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: Private: N
    Status: State: N
    Status: Educational: Y
    Status: Municipal: N
    Status: Satellite: N
    Status: Trust: N
  • Date founded: 1965
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Y
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 51 Hectares
  • Landscaped Area: Y
    Landscaped Area: Size: 53 Hectares
  • Total Area: 156 Hectares
    Latitude: 42.1523170
    Longitude: -87.7862760
    Annual Rainfall: 940 mm
    Altitude: 176.00 Metres
    Total area of glasshouses: 4 Metres
  • Locality: Information
  • Locality: Garden Name: Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Local Address: 1000 Lake Cook Road
  • Locality: City: Glencoe
  • Locality: State: IL

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: Y
    Herbarium: Number of Specimens: 15000
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: Y
    Seed Bank: Y
    Published Plant Catalogue: N
    Computer Plant Record System: Y
  • Open to public: Y
    Friends society: Y
    Retail Outlet: Shop: Y
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: Y
    Disabled access: Y
  • Number of Visitors: 960000
    Number of Volunteers: 1300

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 20703
    Cultivation Taxa Num: 9523
  • Special Collections:Specialized: Actinidia, Aesculus, Amelanchier, Carex (native), Cornus (non-bracted), Geranium, Ginkgo, Iris (Siberian), Quercus, Rosa (Landscape), Salix (under 6' height), Scirpus/Schoenoplectus (native), Solidago (native), Spiraea, Symphyotrichum (native), Thuja plicata, and a National Tallgrass Prairie Seedbank.
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Y
    Invasive Species Policy: Y
    ABS Policy: Y
    Plant Collection Policy: Y

Conservation Programmes

  • Conservation Programme: Y
    Medicinal Plant Programme: Y
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: Y
    Reintroduction Programme: Y

Research Programmes

  • Biotechnology: N
    Plant Breeding: Y
    Conservation - Biology: Y
    Conservation - Genetics: Y
    Data Management Systems and Information Technology: Y
    Ecology: Y
    Ecosystem Conservation: Y
    Education: Y
    Ethnobotany: Y
    Exploration: Y
    Floristics: Y
    Horticulture: Y
    Invasive Species Biology and Control: Y
    Molecular Genetics: Y
    Pollination Biology: Y
    Restoration Ecology: Y
    Seed/Spore Biology: Y
    Systematics and Taxonomy: Y
    Sustainability: Y
    Pharmacology: N
    Agriculture: N
    Land Restoration: Y
    Urban Environments: Y

Education Programmes

  • Visitor/Education Centre: Y
    Education Signs in Garden: Y
    Public Lectures/Talks: Y
    Education Booklets/Leaflets: Y
    Guided Tours: Y
    Permanent Public Displays: Y
    Special Exhibitions: Y
    Courses for School Children: Y
    Courses for University/College Students: Y
    Courses for General Public: Y
    Education Programme: Y

Restoring Chicago’s native vegetation

Approximately half of the property of Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) is under ecological restoration, including 100 acres of oak woodland, 15 acres of prairie, 20 acres along a river corridor and 80 acres of lakes/lakeshores.  The Garden also consults on restoration projects throughout the greater Chicago area.  It maintains a regional seed bank which has the goal of having 15-20 accessions from each of 2500-3000 native species from the upper Midwest.  Currently there are about 1500 species banked.  A project is being piloted to use vacant lots in the city to grow locally-sourced, locally-grown, native seed for restoration projects in the region.

At a national level CBG participates with the Seeds of Success (SOS) and Native Plant Materials Development (NPMD) programs. CBG plans to continue building the seed bank, producing seed for restoration, determining best practices for ecological restoration and conducting research related to restoration ecology. 

Conservation and restoration in the Colorado Plateau (Chicago Botanic Garden)

Chicago Botanic Garden is running a project to assess plant and pollinator communities in degraded and undegraded sites in the Colorado Plateau, specifically on Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands in and around Zion National Park (Springdale, Utah, Washington Colorado) and Black Canyon of the Gunnison (Montrose, Colorado). Together with students, we performed pollinator observations, insect and vegetation surveys, and collected seed and soil data at eight sites at each respective location. Four of the eight sites were found to be in need of restoration (dominated by invasive species such as cheatgrass), and the four remaining sites were not in immediate need of restoration. A second component of this project has mapped the distribution of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and focal forb species throughout the Colorado Plateau. To map historic and present occurrences of targeted taxa, 1996 was used as the first year in present time (due to the marked spike in fire activity). Using collection records available from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and Southwestern Environmental Information Network (SEINet), a database of 89 species and approximately 39,453 unique occurrence records was compiled. This database allows us to map current and historic collection localities and will provide a baseline from which to begin making projections of changes to species ranges under various scenarios of future climate change.

The next phase of this project, Learning from native ‘winners’ will identify native species and populations that can perform well in degraded sites and potentially facilitate succession to diverse native communities. Long-term, this project will help inform restoration, plant-material selection, and strategic SOS collections around model workhorse or ‘winner’ plants that can endure degraded states to foster biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.