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Fact sheet

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

SCOPE

Background: 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.

Audience: In 2013, attendance reached 884,600, including 38,600 member households.

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

Nonprofit: The Arboretum is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization with a $28 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.

Four-Season Destination - Things to Do

  • Children’s Garden: An award-winning, 4-acre interactive, educational and fun garden where families can learn about nature.
  • Maze Garden: One-acre puzzle of hedges.
  • Collections: View and learn about trees and other plants.
  • Grounds: Visitors can explore 16 miles of hiking trails plus nine miles of roads for driving or bicycling. Get a guided tour on an open air tram ride or take guided walks.
  • Visitor Center: Experience interpretive displays, The Arboretum Store and the Ginkgo Restaurant. Special events and exhibitions are offered throughout the year.
  • 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.
  • Annual attractions: Visitors come to the Arboretum to experience the spring flowers including Daffodil Glade, the changing of the leaves in autumn, snowshoe or cross-country skiing on snowy days, as well as special events including Arbor Day, concerts, Theatre-Hikes, art shows, Fall Color Festival, Holiday Celebration and Husky Heroes.
  • Facilities Rental: Facilities in Visitor Center and Thornhill Education Center available to rent by calling 630-725-2190. 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.

Hours:

  • Grounds: 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.
  • Children’s Garden: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., open until 6 p.m. on Thursdays (March-October) and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (November-February)
  • 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), children under 2 are free
  • Wednesday pricing: $8/adult, $7/senior, $6/child
  • Free parking
  • Arboretum members admitted free of charge. Membership benefits include free entry to grounds, discounted class fees and store purchases, Arboretum publications and invitations to member-only events. For details, visit mortonarb.org/membership.

PROGRAMS

Plant Collections: Our 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: 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.

Plant Clinic: Diagnoses trees’ and other plants’ ailments, and aids in tree selection, at no charge. The Plant Clinic answers 14,000 inquiries from 450 zip codes about plant selection and care. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April-October; Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., November-March. 

Sterling Morton Library: The library features more than 27,000 volumes on botany, horticulture, natural history, and ecology; special collections of rare books, periodicals, and catalogs; and 12,000 botanical artworks. Collections include 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. 

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