Historic and Notable Plants in the Collection

Our campus is graced with an impressive array of tree and shrub varieties, which reflect the University's consistent dedication to cultivating a visually interesting landscape with diverse plant life. The University’s horticultural collection has a number of rare and historically interesting specimens.

  • Botany Pond is home to a plethora of aquatic plants and other vegetation, and supports horticultural diversity. The aralias found along the edge of the Hull Gate fence adjacent to the pond are of an uncommon variety. Even the experts were confounded in their efforts to identify them. These aralias, not typically available from nurseries are likely the legacy of John Coulter, whose extensive private plant collection and herbarium were virtually unrivaled at the turn of the 19th Century.
  • An ample array of ornamental viburnums, hawthorns and amelanchiers further distinguishes campus. Many of these decorative shrubs are ‘true’ varieties planted prior to the comprehensive introduction of hybrid varieties in the post-W.W.II era. Today it is almost impossible to find varieties of these species that are not hybrids, but thanks to Beatrix Farrand's efforts to transform the University landscape, many ‘true’ varieties of ornamental shrubs are found about campus.
  • An impressive native oak flourishes on the Midway in front of the University of Chicago Hospitals, standing out among the orderly rows of trees lining the Midway Plaisance. Possibly a relic of the World’s Colombian Exposition, it stands where the American Indian exhibit was located. Considering the oak’s usefulness as a food source by Plains Indians, it may have been incorporated into the site, which also contained a replica of Sitting Bull’s Cabin.

Throughout the year, more plants, old and new, will be highlighted, to draw attention to the collection.