Facts about the North Carolina Botanical Garden

Battle Park (mid-1800s) and Forest Theatre (1940)

  • Manager of the 93-acre Battle Park, a beautiful forest tract in the heart of the Town of Chapel Hill
  • Manager of the Forest Theatre, a historic stone amphitheater and one of the icons of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus

Coker Arboretum (1903)

  • The first scientific collection of plants south of the Potomac River
  • An asset to the beauty and intellectual climate of the campus (located in the heart of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus)
  • Home of an arbor built of native black locust logs, featuring native vines: wisteria (Wisteria frutescens and W. frutescens 'Amethyst Falls'); netleaf clematis (Clematis reticulata), Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla), and cross-vine (Bignonia capreolata)


  • A leading resource for expertise on the native plants and wildflowers of North Carolina
  • A founding institution (1984) of the Center for Plant Conservation and one of 36 institutions to hold the National Collection of Endangered Species (storage of germplasm)
  • An active participant in writing state laws that created the North Carolina Plant Conservation Program
  • A pioneer of the Conservation through Propagation theme, which sets a goal to reduce collection of native plants from the wild
  • A pioneer of Plant Rescue techniques, which were eventually adapted by many conservation-oriented gardening groups throughout the Triangle region and the state
  • The first garden in North America to establish an exotic pest plant policy (1998)
  • Promoter of the Chapel Hill Thesis, used as the basis for voluntary codes of conduct for gardens, landscape architects, the gardening public, horticulturists, and government
  • Leading participant in the organization of the North Carolina Chapter of the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council (1999)
  • Protector of natural areas of statewide significance
  • Manager of seven nature preserves
  • Holder of 23 conservation easements
  • Pioneer in green building design for the UNC system and Chapel Hill campus

In total, the Garden (and the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation) manages 1,133 acres of land, including natural areas, gardens, and conservation easements. See MAP.

History and Legacy

  • Home of the Mason-Morgan Family Cemetery, holding the graves of important early benefactors of UNC
  • Homesite of the first European settler in Chapel Hill (1744)
  • Home of the King's Mill archaeological site
  • Home of Native American archaeological sites
  • Home of the historically restored Paul Green Cabin, where playwright Paul Green wrote many of his works
  • Home of the Addie Totten Library and the William Lanier Hunt Library.
  • Keeper of the legacies of Henry Roland and Addie Totten; William Chambers Coker; John Couch; C. Ritchie Bell; Al and Laurie Radford; William Lanier Hunt; Mercer Reeves Hubbard; Olin and Kay Mouzon

Mason Farm Biological Reserve (1984):

  • A rich natural area encompassing 367 acres
  • A research and teaching site (25 research and teaching permits issued annually; over 100 scholarly publications derived from MFBR research)
  • Site of one of the longest-continuing and most detailed studies of breeding birds in the eastern United States
  • Home of bobcat populations, unique old-growth forest, ancient forest soils, state record trees, and more than 200 species of birds

Natural Wonders

Plant Collections and Displays

  • 14 collections and display gardens (5,900 accessions; 2,100 species).
  • A pioneer of natural Habitat Gardens (Mountains, Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Sandhills).
  • Holder of an acclaimed collection of carnivorous plants, a distinctive specialty of the Southeast.
  • Protector of 30 endangered plant species.
  • Curator of the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden, which includes a Culinary Garden, Economic Garden, Medicinal Garden, Native American Garden, Poison Garden — a total of 500 species, including 52 Rosmarinus officinalis cultivars.
  • Holder of the largest and most thoroughly documented site of the National Rosemary Collection of the Herb Society of America.
  • Curator of a Garden of Flowering Plant Families, Native Perennial Borders, and Horticultural Therapy Demonstration Gardens.

Public School and Other Outreach Programs

  • In 2007, 118 guided tours served about 1460 students and 1040 adults; approximately 100 students participated in the "Visiting Plant Program" in local schools; and Glenwood Elementary School teachers received curriculum materials and more than 200 students visited with their teachers for self-guided activities.
  • Through a partnership with the N.C. Office of School Readiness, staff trained about 100 pre-K teachers in spring of 2007, and approximately 200 more during the 2007 - 2008 school year.
  • Home of Nature Explorers summer camp, providing opportunities for exploration in nature for children ages 6 to 11
  • In 2009, initiating a pre-schoolers' nature exploration program called "Bluets."
  • Offering lectures, workshops, and field trips throughout the year.
  • Home of a pioneering and acclaimed Horticultural Therapy program, serving 175 individuals each year.
  • Each year offering 260 scheduled Public Service Hours (12 to 2 p.m., weekdays) and answering many more inquiries.

Published Works

  • Paul Green's Plant Book: An Alphabet of Flowers and Folklore by Betsy Green Moyer, 2005
  • A Haven in the Heart of Chapel Hill: Artists Celebrate the Coker Arboretum by Daniel Stern, 2004
  • Essays on William Chambers Coker, Passionate Botanist by Mary Coker Joslin, 2003
  • Chapel Hill and Elisha Mitchell the Botanist, Rogers McVaugh, Michael R. McVaugh, and Mary Ayers, 1996
  • From Laurel Hill to Siler's Bog: The Walking Adventures of a Naturalist by John K. Terres, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1993
  • Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers by Harry R. Phillips, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1985
  • Growing with Gardening: A Twelve-Month Guide for Therapy, Recreation and Education by Bibby Moore, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1989
  • Wildflowers of North Carolina by William S. Justice and C. Ritchie Bell, UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1968
  • Wildflowers of the Smokies by Peter S. White, Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 1996
  • The Floristic Synthesis, Biota of North America Program [CD-ROM]
  • Fire and the Longleaf and Plants and the Cherokee, in the "Take a Closer Look" series for schools [videos]

Seeds and Plants

  • The Wildflower of the Year program, a cooperative project that began in 1982 with the Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. (distributing 5,000 brochures and seed packets annually)
  • Repository of 200 native southeastern plant species, available as seeds
  • A mid-February to mid-November daily Plant Sale, which offers native wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and ferns
  • A yearly Fall-is-for-Planting plant sale, held in September or October (dates vary and are announced in the newsletter and the Garden's website).
  • Source of the selection and release of more than 10 unique native plant cultivars to the horticultural industry

The UNC Herbarium (1908; earliest collections 1835)

  • Home of more than 750,000 natural history specimens documenting the identity and distribution of plants in North Carolina and the Southeast.
  • Documentation for the distribution of plants in North Carolina's 100 counties.
  • Home of the landmark work, Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas (1968), and the Flora of the Southeast project.

And more...

  • Displaying six nature-themed art exhibits annually
  • Home of the Sculpture in the Garden exhibition, held annually since 1988
  • 2,500 members of the Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc.
  • Receiving 90,000 visits annually
  • 200 active volunteers who contribute 8,000 hours annually
  • Maintaining and protecting more than 1,100 acres of University land.

Updated on October 17, 2016 at 02:18:01 pm.