Much of Central and Western Asia is mountainous with a cold, sunny, and dry climate. In an attempt to replicate these conditions, parts of this collection are displayed in beds of sand and gravel on rock outcroppings in sun-exposed conditions. This simulates the open arid regions of the species' native habitats. Since these plants evolved in dry climates, they can tolerate periodic droughts common in the Chicago region. These plants typically flower in summer after spring rains have brought them nutrients and energy.
Started in 1925, this collection has grown to include nearly 450 plants, representing 151 species on 1.09 acres. The plants come from the western border of China westward to the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, from such countries as Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Georgia.
Notable features in this collection include the scaly bark of the large Turkish hazelnut (Corylus colurna) and Persian parrotia (Parrotia persica), and the yellow spring flowers and edible summer fruits of Cornelian-cherry dogwood (Cornus mas). Don't miss the towering specimens of Nordmann firs (Abies nordmanniana), Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis) and Schrenk's spruce (Picea schrenkiana ) that are focal points in the collection. These conifers are outstanding with snow covered branches in winter. Take note of the numerous younger wild-collected plants that we are observing for hardiness and beauty.