Chicago Botanic Garden

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United States of America - Illinois - Glencoe

Institution Code: CHIC

BGCI Member: Yes

ArbNet Accredited: Level IV

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 has previously hosted BGCI's U.S. office headquarters. 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: Jean M. Franczyk, President and CEO
    Curator's Name: Phillip Douglas, Director of Plant Collections
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Gabriela Rocha, Plant Recorder
  • 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: No
    Status: State: No
    Status: Educational: Yes
    Status: Municipal: No
    Status: Satellite: No
    Status: Trust: No
  • Date founded: 1965
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 51 Hectares
  • Landscaped Area: Yes
    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: Yes
    Herbarium: Number of Specimens: 15000
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: Yes
    Seed Bank: Yes
    Published Plant Catalogue: No
    Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Shop: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: Yes
    Disabled access: Yes
  • Number of Visitors: 1000000
    Number of Volunteers: 2300

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 27
    Cultivation Taxa Num: 13
  • Special Collections:Specialized: Baptisia, Geranium, Quercus, Salix, Spiraea.
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    Invasive Species Policy: Yes
    ABS Policy: Yes
    Plant Collection Policy: Yes

Conservation Programmes

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

Research Programmes

  • Biotechnology: No
    Plant Breeding: Yes
    Conservation - Biology: Yes
    Conservation - Genetics: Yes
    Data Management Systems and Information Technology: Yes
    Ecology: Yes
    Ecosystem Conservation: Yes
    Education: Yes
    Ethnobotany: Yes
    Exploration: Yes
    Floristics: Yes
    Horticulture: Yes
    Invasive Species Biology and Control: Yes
    Molecular Genetics: Yes
    Pollination Biology: Yes
    Restoration Ecology: Yes
    Seed/Spore Biology: Yes
    Systematics and Taxonomy: Yes
    Sustainability: Yes
    Pharmacology: Yes
    Agriculture: No
    Land Restoration: Yes
    Urban Environments: Yes

Education Programmes

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

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.

The Suzanne S. Dixon prairie at the Chicago Botanic Garden, established in 1980. (Photo credit: Robin Carlson)

At a national level CBG participates with the Seeds of Success (SOS) and Native Plant Materials Development (NPMD) programs. The Seeds of Success National Collection contains more than 16,500 seed collections which are stored at the USDA Agricultural Research Service facilities. 

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. Click here to find out more about Chicago Botanic Garden restoration projects or contact Kayri Havens.

Soil monitoring in the field. (Photo credit: Chicago Botanic Garden)

Conservation and restoration in the Colorado Plateau

Scientists and graduate students at Chicago Botanic Garden are supporting implementation of National Seed Strategy and the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program’s (CPNPP) 5-year Strategy and Action Plan to help improve restoration outcomes in a changing climate.

A revegetation study plot

Chicago Botanic Garden scientists are utilizing the concepts of ecological succession and evolution to identify species characteristics, species mixes, and source populations that may produce more effective re-vegetation outcomes in degraded habitat (including habitat invaded by cheatgrass and knapweed) in the Colorado Plateau. Since 2012 CBG has worked with Seeds of Success collectors, Bureau of Land Management Field Offices, the CPNPP Science Program Lead, and interns with the Conservation and Land Management program to build SOS collections of these identified species and populations (i.e. ‘native winners’) across the Colorado Plateau. CBG scientists are utilizing these collections for germination, greenhouse, common garden and restoration research trials. These trials serve as initial sources of information for seed growers, on propagation, cultivation, and harvesting techniques for the species, and for land managers, on which species and sources are most effective in restoration of degraded habitat. Finally, they also serve as a source of bulked seed to be used for future, larger-scale re-vegetation research.

Knapweed restoration plot

CBG scientists are also working on retrospective studies of revegetation outcomes for different species and seed sources used in the Colorado Plateau over the last 10 years. Specifically, this project is: 1) identifying and make data available on seeded species and sources used in treatments via the Land Treatment Digital Library (LTDL), Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative (WRI) and other sources (including native and introduced species, as well as cultivars and source-identified seed); 2) synthesizing data to determine region-wide trends of success for different seeded species and sources used (and to determine the feasibility of more in-depth research linking seed source to revegetation seeding success); and 3) making results broadly available to land managers to support decision-making that minimizes the risk of revegetation seeding failure.

Please contact Andrea Kramer for more information about this project.

Collecting native seed


Restoring McDonald Woods

McDonald Woods is a 100-acre remnant oak woodland at the northeast corner of the Chicago Botanic Garden on land owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The woodland encompasses five community types: northern flatwoods, mesic woodland, dry-mesic woodland, upland forest, and savanna. Although the site was historically subjected to the negative influences of agriculture and logging, it retained remnant populations of six state-listed plant species. The site also is noteworthy in that it contains several species not found before in the Chicago region: Carex digitalis, Deschapsia flexuosa, and Carex hyalinolepis.

Since restoration and management began in 1988, the woodland now supports self-sustaining populations of Aster furcatus, Carex tuckermanii, Carex formosa, Carex bromoides, Oenothera perennis, and Viola conspersa (state-listed species).  Baseline inventories of herbaceous, shrub & tree populations, small mammals, birds, butterflies, mycorrhizal fungi, bryophytes, litter spiders, mites & springtails have been completed. Ongoing surveys are looking at the response of each of these groups to restoration. Restoration and management has involved (and continues to involve) removal of invasive species; seeding to enhance existing plant populations and re-establish species thought to occur historically; and controlled burning.

Read more about this project on the Chicago Botanic Garden website, here and here.

Click here to watch a video about the ecological restoration work at Chicago Botanic Garden.

McDonald Woods, Chicago Botanic Garden