Conservatory | Plant Biology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Agriculture, Life and Physical Sciences

About the Conservatory

Did you know that the Plant Biology Program at SIU maintains a Conservatory of plants from around the world? 

Did you know that this collection is open to the public for guided tours?

The Plant Biology Conservatory houses a diverse collection of plants.  The collection includes thousands of individual specimens and well over 1,000 species, varieties, and cultivars. Many are rare and unusual plants from all over the world.  Highlights of the collection are:

  • Over 50 cultivars of orchids
  • Hundreds of other flower plants, including the tropical plants like bird of paradise, gingers, hibiscus, and bougainvillea
  • A diverse collection of ferns, including the epiphytic staghorn fern, the bird's nest fern and the rabbit's foot fern.
  • A collection of cycads, a few nearly a century old
  • Many unusual palms from several different countries
  • Poisonous, epiphytic, and carnivorous plants
  • Tropical plants from North and South America, Caribbean Islands, Africa, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, and more!
  • Cacti, euphorbias, and succulents of many different shapes and sizes
  • Primitive plants, including mosses, liverworts, Selaginellas
  • During the growing season we also have a beautiful display in our gardens

The Conservatory provides plant material for Plant Biology classes.  The collection is also utilized by many students from other departments, including horticulture, art and photography.  School and community groups visit the conservatory every year. Many visitors see the greenhouse as a haven, where they can simply walk in the green. We also rent plants for many on-campus university events, such as: commencement, guest speakers, awards ceremonies, press announcements, and student group events.

The 75 year old facility housing the conservatory is about to undergo its first major renovation since its original construction.  The renovation would replace the existing facilities, install a cooling system, provide automation and computer control of all systems, and provide emergency backup systems.  The renovation would also bring the greenhouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act so that we can more effectively serve students and visitors with special needs.  Future plans for expansion of the greenhouse facility include the addition of a meeting room for classes and events, as well as a research wing.  Our goal is to improve the facility to protect the delicate plants in the conservatory and to help share this remarkable collection with everyone.  

If you’d like to give to the greenhouse renovation effort, please click here or contact the SIU Foundation. 

If you’d like to schedule a guided tour of the conservatory, click here.  Our hours are 9:00 to 4:00, Monday through Friday

Plant scientists and enthusiasts who are interested in more specific detail on the conservatory collection can obtain that information here or here.