The Morton Arboretum Receives Grant to Safeguard Endangered Trees

Scientists and grant recipients

The Morton Arboretum, in collaboration with Montgomery Botanical Center, Coral Gables, Fla., the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a team of environmental experts from around the nation, has received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to help safeguard the nation’s tree collections.

For the project, called one of the largest advances in tree conservation since the 1970s, a team of researchers from leading environmentally-focused gardens and agencies around the country will work to ensure our nation’s beloved trees will be here for future generations by preserving genetic variation, the way that tree and plant species adapt to future challenges like new climates and disease. Without variation, a species cannot evolve and is not sustainable. Each garden will tailor its collections to the unique conservation needs of specific tree species, while developing best practices for conservation that can be shared with other public gardens.

The project will include research on Florida’s iconic palm trees and Hawaii’s critically-endangered alula. The Morton Arboretum team, led by researchers Sean Hoban, Ph.D. and Murphy Westwood, Ph.D., will focus on threatened and critically-endangered species of oaks and magnolias.

Along with The Morton Arboretum, the USDA and Montgomery Botanical Center, project partners include Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; Center for Plant Conservation, San Diego, Calif.; Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Ill., Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield, Ill.; National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kalāheo, Hawaii and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.

 “The Arboretum is honored to receive an IMLS National Leadership Grant, which will enable Arboretum researchers and project partners around the world to study and conserve the amazing diversity of trees that shape our nation’s landscape,” said Westwood, tree conservation specialist at The Morton Arboretum.  “Trees are the backbone of our natural world, providing clean air, water, and essential habitat for animals. This is why it’s so critical to preserve healthy and diverse forests around the country.”

“This project has amazing potential, helping ensure that our garden collections support tree species’ long term survival,” added Patrick Griffith, executive director of the Montgomery Botanical Center.

The National Leadership Grants support projects that address critical needs of the museum field and have the potential to improve services for the American public.

“As centers of learning and catalysts of community change, libraries and museums connect people with programs, services, collections, information, and new ideas in the arts, sciences, and humanities. They serve as vital spaces where people can connect with each other,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “IMLS is proud to support their work through our grant making as they inform and inspire all in their communities.”

About IMLS

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The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.