Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Connecting people, plants, and place.

Notice: Our website is currently undergoing maintenance and information may not be current. For assistance please contact info@morrisarboretum.org.

Research

Botanical Research

General Information

Since its inception as a public garden, the Morris Arboretum has served as a center for botanical research. Research staff at the arboretum study the evolution, phylogenetics, systematics/taxonomy, anatomy and morphology of plants. The Morris Arboretum also has a long-standing research program in floristics, or the study of what plants grow in a certain place in a particular time frame, with a major focus on the flora of Pennsylvania (please see below for details). We are currently fundraising to better equip our laboratory with a suite of molecular biology and anatomy/histology tools and equipment, to allow us to grow our research program even further. Please contact us at botany@morrisarboretum.org with any questions about our research program, or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer or donor to help further our pursuits!

The PA Flora Project

Early research staff of the Morris Arboretum included Dr. Rodney True, Dr. Edgar Wherry, and Dr. John Fogg. These and other scientists at the Arboretum have had considerable impact on the understanding of the flora of Pennsylvania and beyond. Today, The PA Flora Project's botanical research efforts focus on the occurrence of the native and naturalized plants that inhabit Pennsylvania. We recognize the importance of understanding the dynamic nature of the flora and seek to gain insights into these changes through work in the field, laboratory, and at the computer. We maintain the Pennsylvania Flora Database, a database of more than 400,000 plant records, to help store and disseminate the data we obtain in our research. We are currently working in collaboration with The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University to further improve on the PA Flora Database by creating better access to plant specimens collected in PA through the PA Digitization Project, which will make high-resolution images of these specimens and the collecting information associated with them (i.e., who collected the plant, where and when) available online.


Staff Members

Dr. Timothy Block, The John J. Willaman Chair of Botany

My research interests are in the flora of Pennsylvania and in GIS mapping of plant distribution.


Dr. Ann F. Rhoads, Senior Botanist, retired

My research interests are focused on the floristics of Pennsylvania. I want to document the natural vegetation of the state and better understand historical and contemporary influences that have shaped the patterns of plant distribution we see today.


Dr. Cynthia Skema

Dr. Cynthia Skema,Botanical Scientist

My research is focused on the systematics and evolution of plants. I enjoy studying plants at many levels, from ecosystems to species to organs to genes. I am particularly interested in the floras of Pennsylvania and Madagascar, the digitization and dissemination of herbarium/floristics data, and the evolution of separate sexes in flowering plants.


Anna Giesmann

Anna Giesmann, The John J. Willaman & Martha Haas Valentine Endowed Plant Protection Intern


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Alerts & Updates

The Holiday Garden Railway is not running today due to the rain.

The lower portion of the Rose Garden will be closed due to renovations to the turf after a long, hot, dry summer with record attendance. The top gate will be open to allow for visual access, just not foot traffic. While we will hope to reopen quickly, some variables are unpredictable. We look forward to welcoming visitors back on our newly restored Rose Garden turf soon.

Please note that weather conditions can change quickly, check back or call (215) 247-5777 before heading out for a visit.

Weather conditions may limit garden access to certain features even if the garden is open – please check the web site or call (215) 247-5777 for updates before visiting. Our visitors’ safety in the garden is our top priority. Therefore when inclement weather is predicted, we will make decisions about closing the garden accordingly.

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