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United States Botanic Garden

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

202-226-8333 | Email:

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

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





Saharah Moon Chapotin

The above list of key personnel was updated 10–2019.

The above list of key personnel was updated 10–2019.

The United States Botanic Garden demonstrates the essential contribution that plants make aesthetically, culturally, ecologically, economically, and therapeutically, to the well-being of humankind, and it supports partnerships, nationally and internationally, by fostering exchanges of information and ideas.


The U.S. Botanic Garden (USBG) has a long root that runs deep in the soil of the Nation's history. On October 21, 1796, while addressing some gentlemen in a letter from Mount Vernon, President George Washington conceived that "a Botanical Garden would be a good appendage to the Institution of a University" in the "Federal City." Twenty-four years later, that conception blossomed, when 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 core of what would grow to become the Nation's future botanic garden.

The U.S. 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 enacted that the enlarged collection should be placed under the stewardship of its Joint Committee on the Library and that it should be kept in the upper room of the Patent Office (5 Stat. 534).

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 removal and relocation to a "suitable site on the public grounds" of the Capitol. The Joint Committee on the Library, with supervision from the Commissioner of Public Buildings, managed the project (9 Stat. 427). 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 relocated one block south, to its present site, in 1933. 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 and informs people about plants' aesthetic, cultural, ecological, economic, and therapeutic significance. 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 online 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.

Carbon Footprint

A small step can lead to a big change. A carbon, or ecological, footprint helps demonstrate the effect that lifestyle has on Earth systems. Most people can reduce their carbon footprint (i.e., the amount of emitted greenhouse gases that lifestyle governs) by shifting to sustainable practices and products. The USBG posted a list of suggestions for developing a more sustainable lifestyle, a lifestyle that leaves behind a smaller carbon footprint. The list includes suggestions for bottled water, coffee grounds, driving less, eating locally, junk mail, planting trees, plastic bags, and washing clothes.

Career Opportunities

Information on career and volunteer opportunities is available online.

Contact Information

The USBG welcomes feedback: comments, concerns, and questions. Got a growing plant question? Select the "Plant Hotline" option in the "Inquiry Type" field of the electronic comment form.


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 online.


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 website 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 website maintains a gallery of plants whose threat levels are vulnerable, threatened, and endangered.

Site Map

The website 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.

Staff Directory

Approximately 65 employees work at the USBG in four divisions: Administration, Horticulture, Operations, and Public Programs.

Visitor Guide

More than a million visitors come to see the USBG each year. A visitor guide is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish.

The Sources of Information were updated 10–2019.