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United States Botanic Garden

Office of Executive Director, 245 First Street SW., Washington, DC 20024


Conservatory, 100 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20001

Production Facility, 4700 Shepherd Parkway SW., Washington, DC 20032



Stephen T. Ayers


Susan K. Pell, Acting

The above list of key personnel was updated 09–2017.

The above list of key personnel was updated 09–2017.

The United States Botanic Garden informs visitors of the importance and value of plants to humankind and to Earth's ecosystems.

The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) has a long history that reaches back to the Founding Fathers. In October of 1796, President George Washington suggested that "a Botanic Garden would be a good appendage" to a Federal university. Twenty-four years later, President James Madison helped establish a botanic garden in the U.S. Capital under the auspices of the Columbian Institute, a society dedicated to promoting the arts and sciences. This early botanic collection served as the cornerstone of what would become the Nation's future botanic garden.

Congress also supported establishing a national botanic garden. By an act of August 26, 1842, it made provision for the safekeeping and arrangement of dried and living specimens that Lieutenant Charles Wilkes's expedition had collected while exploring the Pacific Rim. Congress placed the enlarged collection under the stewardship of its Joint Committee on the Library.

When the old Patent Office was expanded in 1849, a new location for the plants and greenhouse had to be found. Congress again intervened and, by an act of May 15, 1850, funded the construction of a new greenhouse and the collection's relocation. The Joint Committee on the Library, with assistance from the Commissioner of Public Buildings, managed the project. A new national botanic garden opened on the National Mall, at the west end of the Capitol Grounds, later that year.

By 1856—the collection had been named officially the United States Botanic Garden, Congress was providing an annual appropriation for its upkeep, and the Joint Committee on the Library had assumed responsibility for both its direction and maintenance. To satisfy the McMillan Commission's plan for a large, open mall, the USBG was moved in 1933, one block south, to its present site. The Joint Committee on the Library maintains oversight of the USBG through the Architect of the Capitol, who holds the title of Acting Director.


The USBG highlights botanical diversity worldwide, as well as the aesthetic, cultural, ecological, economic, and therapeutic significance of plants. The agency promotes appreciation of plants and stimulates interest in botany through artistic plant displays, education programs, exhibits, and curation of a large plant collection. It supports conservation by serving as a repository for endangered plant species. It also encourages the exchange of ideas and disseminates mission-relevant information to national and international visitors and policymakers.

Three USBG sites are open year-round to the public: the Conservatory, the National Garden, and Bartholdi Park. The production facility is periodically open for public programs and tours.

Sources of Information

America's Agricultural Experience

Based on a meeting that the U.S. Botanic Garden helped to organize of the Nation's leading agricultural and botanical educators, "Agriculture and the Future of Food: The Role of Botanic Gardens" presents a series of educational narratives that promote the reconnection of people and plants through the American agricultural experience. The document is available on the USBG Web site in Portable Document Format (PDF).

Calendar of Events

The USBG offers children and family programs, lectures, special tours, and workshops, as well as free theater, concerts, cooking demonstrations, and more. An events calendar is posted on the "Programs and Events" page, and a Portable Document Format (PDF) version is available for downloading.

Career Opportunities

Information on career and volunteer opportunities is available online.


The USBG creates exhibits that not only delight and educate visitors, but that inspire them to become more active and better stewards of the plants supporting life on Earth. It posts Information on current and upcoming exhibits online.


Gardening factsheets are available on the USBG's Web site.


The USBG is a child-friendly living plant museum.

Land Development and Management

An interdisciplinary partnership led by the USBG, American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ improves land development and management practices with a voluntary rating system for sustainable land design, construction, and maintenance practices. Architects, designers, developers, engineers, landscape architects, policymakers, and others use SITES to align land development and management with sustainable design. SITES supports the creation of ecologically resilient communities, and it benefits property owners, local and regional communities and their economies, as well as the environment. Certification covers development projects on land where buildings are absent or present.


A collaboration between the USBG and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Landscape For Life™ promotes an approach to landscaping that respects nature. Irrespective of location—downtown, suburbia, or the farm—every landscape or garden can protect and even restore the environment, without sacrificing visual appeal. The Landscape for Life Web site contains a trove of information—getting started, materials, human health, plants, soil, and water—for transforming an environmentally ambivalent landscape into a healthy, sustainable one.

Living Collections Database

An online tool is available to search the USBG's living collections database.

Native Plant Recommendations

The USBG posts lists of selected plants to grow in the garden. The lists are available in Portable Document Format (PDF) for downloading.

Plant Hotline

Questions about a garden plant? Call the Plant Hotline. Phone, 202-226-4785.


Learn about the role birds and bees, as well as other creatures like bats, beetles, butterflies, flies, moths, and even wasps, play in the life cycle of plants.

Production Facility

The production facility opens periodically for public programs and tours. An annual open house allows visitors to meet the gardeners, ask questions, and explore the facility.

Rare and Endangered Plants

USBG experts bank seeds of rare plants, introduce rare plants to the horticultural trade, maintain live specimens, and study wild plants at risk of endangerment or extinction. The Web site features a gallery of plants with vulnerable, threatened, and endangered threat levels.

Site Map

The Web site map allows visitors to look for specific topics or to browse content that aligns with their interests.

Social Media

The USBG has a Facebook account. | Email:

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