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SCIENCE & conservation

Soil ecologist collecting data in a forest with grassy understory in the fall.

The Arboretum’s mission—to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world—has never been more important. The world around us is not as green as it used to be.

Since the Arboretum’s beginning in 1922, practical, scientific research has been a cornerstone activity. Here, we strive to understand how to grow healthier trees and to create healthy tree communities all over the world so the planet can thrive.

To learn how research at The Morton Arboretum is building a truly green legacy and improving tree communities for you and future generations, learn more about the staff and research projects through the programs below.

Center for Tree Science

The Morton Arboretum is establishing the Center for Tree Science to facilitate collaboration, integrate the many dimensions of tree science research, and enable researchers to more efficiently address important research questions.

Scientists and Staff

The Morton Arboretum’s scientists are distinguished researchers in fields related to the biology, planting, care and conservation of trees. Working in collaboration with researchers from around the world, they present their findings to public and professional audiences, as well as in conferences and prestigious scientific journals. Arborists, horticulturists, landscape designers, natural lands stewards, public officials, and home gardeners all benefit from their knowledge and up-to-the-minute expertise.

Research Themes

The Morton Arboretum’s scientific research supports its basic mission: to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Through collaborations with colleagues here and around the world, the Arboretum’s research falls under these general themes:

Chicago Region Trees Initiative

The Morton Arboretum is leading the implementation of the Chicago Region Trees Initiative, a strategy to improve the vitality and sustainability of the region's trees. 


The Morton Arboretum’s Collections include both its Living Collections and Herbarium.  Our expert staff collect, document, study, and care for almost 290,000 specimens to learn more about global plant diversity, horticulture, plant breeding, and conservation.

Restoration at the Arboretum

Morton Arboretum staff work with an extensive community of volunteers and partners to implement adaptive management strategies to restore and sustain healthy ecosystems on Arboretum grounds.  Efforts include restoring more than half its 1,700 acres as natural woodlands, prairies, and wetlands, as well as a major project to improve the flow of and habitats along the DuPage River.

Global Tree Conservation

Saving trees from extinction through global collaborations.


ArbNet is an interactive, collaborative, international community of arboreta and tree-focused professionals. ArbNet facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experience, and other resources to help arboreta meet their institutional goals and works to raise professional standards through the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program.