fbpx Research | The Morton Arboretum


You don't have to be a scientist to volunteer in the research labs at The Morton Arboretum. At the Arboretum, we study everything about trees: roots, plant pathology, genetics, soil conditions, and the effects of exposure to extreme conditions. Many volunteers help out in the herbarium, where we preserve and study plants from the Chicago area and from locations around the world.

Field Work

Research scientists tend several areas at the Arboretum where we are growing hybrid trees that are adaptable to urban conditions. Special projects in these areas are available short-term, when research scientists request volunteer assistance.


The Morton Arboretum's Herbarium is a library of 176,000 collected and preserved plant, tree, seed, and wood specimens from accessioned plants and collected plants from around the world. Volunteers learn to collect, process, record, enter data, and mount specimens on acid-free paper. Regular weekday shifts of 3½–4 hours are asked of Herbarium volunteers. This is an outstanding way to learn about plant collections!


Tree roots tell a story about soil conditions and are indicators of tree health. Lab assistants sort tree roots, measure, and scan samples electronically. Future opportunities may be open in other research areas.