Research in plant systematics at The Morton Arboretum addresses basic questions about the origins and evolution of plant species: What is the nature of biological boundaries between species, and how can we identify those species? What are the evolutionary relationships among species? What species comprise the flora of the Chicago region?
Much of the Arboretum's research in this area focuses on oaks (Quercus) and sedges (Carex), genera that are widespread, diverse, and ecologically significant and that pose numerous identification challenges to the practicing botanist and ecologist. Arboretum research into the basic questions of systematics provides usable tools for identifying plants and measuring biodiversity. Thus, systematics is fundamental to helping woodland conservation, natural vegetation, and rare plant conservation to proceed on a sound footing, with an assurance that the families, genera, and species reflect biologically based evolutionary populations and lineages.
Systematics research is led by Andrew Hipp.