Characteristics of an Exemplary Living Collection

  • Galen Gates Chicago Botanic Garden 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois 60022


The purpose of this study was to analyse the characteristics that define a plant collection. In 2002 Chicago Botanic Garden benchmarked the living plant collections in national and international botanic gardens and arboreta in seven countries. The result of the study revealed that there were twelve characteristics of an exemplary living collection. These were:

I. Institutional Collections Policy and Development Plans
II. High diversity (breadth in taxa and germplasm)
III. Depth or areas of specialization (plant-related areas)
IV. Thorough record-keeping
V. Care – maintenance practices
VI. An active Verification Programme
VII. Plants of wild origin with cultivated plants from their introducer
VIII. Taxa of conservation concern
IX. Staff expertise (knowledge acquired from the building and study of the Collection)
X. Public access (to view and study plants and benefit from associated Programming)
XI. Plant Exploration Programmes
XII. Relevance to science and society for multiple generations

Author Biography

Galen Gates, Chicago Botanic Garden 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois 60022
Galen Gates is the Director of Plant Collections and Curator of Perennials at the Chicago Botanic Garden
How to Cite
Gates, G. (2007). Characteristics of an Exemplary Living Collection. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (5), 51-61.