Overview of the Missouri Botanical Garden

The mission of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis — widely considered one of the top three botanical gardens in the world – is “to discover and share knowledge about plants and their environment in order to preserve and enrich life.” Today, more than 150 years after opening, the Garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science and conservation, education and horticultural display.

Peter Wyse Jackson, Ph.D., a globally renowned botanist, is the Garden’s president. He has served as chair of the Global Partnership for Plant Conservation since 2004, supporting the implementation of the U.N.'s Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. He brings to the Garden an extensive knowledge of botanical institutions, having worked closely with botanic gardens in more than 50 countries.

The Garden’s 79 acres of splendid horticultural displays include the vibrant tropical rainforest that thrives inside the Climatron® conservatory. The Japanese Garden covers 14 acres, making it one of the largest Japanese strolling gardens in North America. Other outstanding displays include the Chinese Garden, English Woodland Garden, Ottoman Garden and Victorian District. More than 4,800 trees live on the grounds, including some unusual varieties and a few stately specimens dating back to the 19th century, when Garden founder Henry Shaw planted them. The William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening, the nation’s most comprehensive resource center for gardening information, includes 23 residential-scale demonstration gardens.

The Garden is one of the world’s leading centers for botanical exploration, plant science, and conservation. Some 26 major floras and checklists are based here, and Garden botanists are active in 35 countries on six continents. Information is shared via Tropicos®, the world’s largest and most widely used botanical database, developed and maintained at the Garden. With 6.3 million specimens, the Garden herbarium is one of the six largest in the world and one of the two largest in the U.S. Without exception, the Garden’s research activities are carried out in collaboration with institutions in each host country. Garden scientists train local botanists and build research capacity in countries with the greatest biological diversity, to assist them to conserve and sustainably manage their botanical resources. The Garden’s Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development serves as a clearinghouse for plant conservation efforts.

The EarthWays Center is the division of the Garden devoted to an increasingly vital goal: conservation of energy and other natural resources for the future, otherwise known as “sustainability” — meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The Garden’s highly regarded education programs served over 89,000 students in 2010. Offerings include classes for students, adults and families, professional development for teachers, and community outreach classes. Many opportunities are available on-site for visitors to learn while they enjoy the Garden.

Local families and visitors from around the world make the Garden a popular year-round destination. Annual events include the Orchid Show, Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show, Japanese Festival, Chinese Culture Days, Whitaker Music Festival and Best of Missouri Market®. Numerous fountains and many fine pieces of sculpture adorn the grounds, including seven monumental bronzes by Swedish artist Carl Milles. The Sassafras café and Garden Gate Shop are open daily.

The Garden also encompasses a family of attractions. The 2,400-acre Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, Mo., educates visitors of all ages about the plants, animals and ecosystems of the region. The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, located in Faust Park in Chesterfield, Mo., features an 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory where visitors mingle with more than 60 species of the world’s most beautiful butterflies in free flight.

The Missouri Botanical Garden has over 45,000 members, and an annual attendance of over 901,000.