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The Arboretum's history comes alive with special, hand-picked items

An Arboretum Store display
The Arboretum Store has a selection of nature-inspired gifts.
March 23, 2015


The Morton Arboretum has a long and storied history. Originally the estate of the Morton family, owners of Chicago-based Morton Salt Company, the Arboretum is a place where scientists, architects, artists and others have left lasting impressions, helping to carry the Arboretum forward in its mission to protect, care for and plant trees. 

“With our new display, The Arboretum Store is recognizing those who influenced the Arboretum and helped shape it to become what visitors see today,” said Jacque Fucilla, store manager. 

Special items include:

The May T. Watts Map
The work of May Theilgaard Watts, a long-time educator, ecologist and environmentalist at the Arboretum, this charming hand-drawn map dates back to the early 1940s and was the first color map handed out to visitors at the gatehouse. Bordered with intricate black-and-white depictions of tree leaves and showcasing the grounds as they appeared at that time, the map features seasonal highlights, trails, an inset of the Thornhill Education Center and other treasured spots at the Arboretum—look for Watts’ illustration of the ‘Best Sugar Maple’ on the west side.


Tree Finder: A Manual for the Identification of Trees by their Leaves
Published in 1963, this manual, also by May T. Watts, gives readers insight into 161 trees native to the Midwest and eastern parts of the U.S. as well as Canada. With easy-to-comprehend explanations and corresponding drawings, the book holds up today and is small enough to easily bring along on a nature hike

Acorn statues
The Arboretum is home to an extensive collection of oak trees and a reflection of this magnificent species is the large stone acorn statues that grace Arbor Court, the open space behind the Visitor Center. Created by artist Sylvia Shaw Judson, the ornamental pieces are also available in our store. Made of long-lasting, weather-resistant fiberglass, the gray statues are available at 22 inches and 9 inches and bring a touch of the Arboretum to your garden.

A Man of Salt and Trees: The Life of Joy Morton
The life story of the Arboretum’s founder, Joy Morton, is chronicled in this book by writer James Ballowe. Detailing Morton’s beginnings in Nebraska as the son of J. Sterling Morton, the secretary of agriculture under President Grover Cleveland and the founder of Arbor Day, and continuing through his years of business success at the helm of the Morton Salt Company, the book also speaks to his Morton’s great love of nature.  Morton founded the Arboretum in 1922 and his family’s motto “Plant Trees” resonates in the research and conservation that takes place on our grounds every day.

Check out these and many other pieces available at the Arboretum Store that bring the Arboretum’s wonderful history alive.