VISIT & explore

Fact sheet

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned leader in tree science and education, working to save and plant trees.

Scope: The Arboretum ranks among the leading arboretums of the world in size, age, quality of specimens, and programs in Plant Collections, Research, and Education. Established in 1922 by Mr. Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company and son of J. Sterling Morton (founder of Arbor Day), the Arboretum encompasses 1,700 acres, including 500 acres of plant collections and gardens; and 900 acres of woodlands, prairie, meadows, lakes and streams. The Arboretum is open 365 days a year.

Mission: To collect and study trees, shrubs and other plants from around the world, to display them across naturally beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, and to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance our environment. Our goal is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier and more beautiful world.

Staffing: 150 full time, 100 part time, 100 seasonal employees; 1,000 volunteers; 21 persons on the Board of Trustees.

Four-Season Destination - Things to Do:  Children’s Garden: an award-winning, four-acre interactive garden for nature play and learning.  Maze Garden: one-acre puzzle of hedges. Collections: view and learn about trees and other plants. 16 miles of hiking trails, nine miles of roads for driving or bicycling. Open-air tram rides. Also, we offer guided walks, spring flowers, autumn colors, Arbor Day, concerts, Theatre-Hikes, art shows, Fall Color Festival, Holiday Celebration, Yule Log Hunt, and Husky Heroes.

Plant Collections include 190,000 specimens in the collections; 4,200 different types of trees, shrubs and other plants native to 40 countries, which serve as vital resources for scientific study. Plant collection categories include horticultural (landscaping and gardening), geographic (place of origin), scientific (related plant groups), special habitat (modified soils/sites), evaluation groups, and endangered plants.  The world-renowned Schulenberg Prairie is one of the oldest reconstructed prairies in the U.S.

Science and Conservation: The Research Program focuses on practical scientific studies; key areas include tree health, tree Conservation improvement, and woodland conservation. Housed in the state-of-the-art Research Center is a Herbarium of 194,000 specimens for botanical research. The Regional Trees Initiative develops strategies for tree and urban forest improvement in the greater Chicago area; the Community Trees program advocates for trees in 274 communities in the seven counties. ArbNet, facilitated by The Morton Arboretum, is an interactive professional community of arboreta with programs to foster advancements among tree-focused gardens. Science and conservation initiatives address international needs to build partnerships and save endangered trees

Education and Information Services: The Education Program is relevant to needs and interests in learning about plants, nature, and ways to improve our world. Through the Thornhill Education Center, classes and other offerings serve 36,000 adults and youth, including 31,000 students from 577 schools who participate in field, lab, and outreach programs. Available are certificates in horticulture, natural history, ornithology, botanical art, and nature photography; teacher-training resources; and a cooperative botany degree program with regional colleges and universities. The Sterling Morton Library contains 27,000 volumes on botany, horticulture, natural history, and ecology; special collections of rare books, periodicals, and catalogs; and 12,000 botanical artworks. The Plant Clinic answers 16,000 inquiries from 454 zip codes about plant selection and care.

Audience: In 2012, attendance reached 805,542, including 35,603 members.

Nonprofit: The Arboretum is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization with a $27 million annual budget supported by revenue from admissions, membership, visitor programs and services, tuition; charitable contributions; and an endowment. The Arboretum receives no direct public tax support.

Grounds: Open every day of the year, the Arboretum features 16 miles of hiking trails and 9 miles of paved roads for driving/bicycling or guided tram tours. Specialty gardens include the Maze and Children's Garden. The Visitor Center comprises interpretive displays, the Arboretum Store, and the Ginkgo Restaurant. Special events and thematic exhibitions are offered throughout the year. Conference and banquet facilities are available for rental.

Hours: 7 a.m. to sunset.

  • Visitor Center: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan.-Feb.; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mar.-Apr. and Nov.-Dec.; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May-Oct. 630-968-0074, trees@mortonarb.org.
  • The Arboretum Store: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan.-Feb.; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mar.-Apr. and Nov.-Dec.; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May-Oct. 630-719-2454
  • Ginkgo Restaurant: Daily 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday breakfast 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Ginkgo Café: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan.-Feb.; 9 a.m.to 5 p.m. Mar.-Apr. and Nov.-Dec.; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May-Oct.

Admission Fees: $12/Adult, $11/Senior, $9/Child (2-17), Under 2 free.

  • Wednesday pricing: $8/Adult, $7/Senior, $6/Child.
  • Free Parking. Arboretum members admitted free of charge.

Visitor Stations: The Big Rock and Schulenberg Prairie visitor stations offer shelter and washroom facilities as well as interpretation and orientation for adjacent trails and landscapes.

Children’s Garden: An award-winning, 4-acre interactive, educational and fun garden where families can learn about nature. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (March-October) and 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (November-February); open until 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays (May-September).

Facilities Rental: Facilities in Visitor Center and Thornhill Education Center available to rent by calling 630-719-2190. For Children’s Garden reservations, call 630-725-2038.

Group Tours: Special admission, tour packages and lunch options are available with a minimum of two weeks advance booking for groups of 12 or more. For reservations, contact 630-719-5700 or  grouptours@mortonarb.org. For school groups, call 630-719-2468.

Plant Clinic: Diagnoses trees’ and other plants’ ailments, and aids in tree selection, at no charge. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April-October; Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., November-March. Contact the clinic at 630-719-2424 or  plantclinic@mortonarb.org

Sterling Morton Library: The library features more than 28,000 volumes in the circulating and reference collections including 4,000 rare books; 220 current periodicals along with hundreds of no longer active journal titles; over 1,500 current and historic nursery catalogs; 12,000 artworks (15th-21st centuries); papers and photographs relating to the Arboretum's founder, Joy Morton, and history of The Morton Arboretum; over 1,500 landscape drawings by Jens Jensen, Marshall Johnson, and O.C. Simonds; and 10,000 photographs and slides. Exhibits display rare books and prints. Members have borrowing privileges. Hours are Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Contact the library at 630-719-2429 or library@mortonarb.org

Thornhill Education Center: For class information and registration, view the course listings, contact 630-719-2468, or registrar@mortonarb.org.

Development Office: For corporate and individual gifts, contact 630-725-2027.

Volunteers: Those wishing to volunteer their time to assisting in Arboretum programs, activities, events and research can contact the Volunteer Office at 630-719-2443 or  volunteer@mortonarb.org

Membership: Benefits include free entry to grounds, discounted class fees and store purchases, Arboretum publications and invitations to member-only events. Learn more

Contact Information:
Public Relations (media inquiries only): 630-719-5768
24-Hour Information: 630-719-2400
Special Events Tickets: 630-725-2066
Bloom ‘n Color hotline (spring and fall only): 630-719-7955