Montgomery Botanical Center
Advancing Research, Conservation, and Education through Scientific Plant Collections
Established in 1959, the mission of the Montgomery Botanical Center, a non-profit institution, is to advance science, education, conservation and horticultural knowledge of tropical plants, emphasizing palms and cycads, and to exemplify excellent botanical garden design in its 120-acre garden.
With nearly 3,000 species of palms in the world, the number of researchers studying this plant group is greater than those studying cycads. A primary goal of the Montgomery Botanical Center is to support the international palm community – from the scientists and students conducting palm research to other experts, industries, and societies participating in the larger world of palms. As early as 1932, Robert Montgomery was committed to developing an international palm collection on the property.
Cycads are the survivors of a plant group that was abundant in the Mesozoic flora and reached its zenith in the Jurassic Period, 160 million years ago. Consequently, cycads are often referred to as “living fossils” and “coelacanths of the plant world.” Cycads once had an almost worldwide distribution. Fossils have been found as far north as Alaska, Britain, Greenland, and Siberia and as far south as Antarctica. Today, these plants are confined in nature to limited areas in tropical and subtropical regions around the globe.
The Montgomery Botanical Center is a living research resource. Montgomery’s primary visitors are botanists, particularly those who study palms and cycads. It also serves entomologists, geologists, and scientists in many other disciplines. Specializing in living plant research collections, Montgomery maintains genetically diverse population samples of wild-collected palms and cycads. It has thorough documentation of each plant, the ability to manipulate plants as required by research protocols, and the security and protection for the study plants over the length of a project.
The Montgomery Botanical Center was established in 1959 by Nell Montgomery Jennings in memory of her husband, Colonel Robert H. Montgomery, and his love of palms and cycads. Today, the Montgomery Botanical Center advances botanical research, conserves rare species, and educates the community through workshops, lectures, publications, and tours of its scientific plant collections.