Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Botany Greenhouse is closed to the public, students, and most researchers until further notice. The Botany Garden remains open, however, we ask you to please be respective of our gardeners who are considered essential staff and practice social distancing. 


The Botany Greenhouse has 8,000 square feet of growth space and the Botany Garden has 1.3 acres of land and holds the Department of Botany’s extensive collection of more than 1,500 unique species of plants and 210 plant families. Come and visit each of the 8 greenhouse rooms that take you through a journey of the tropics, desert, bog, and fern forest. This collection of aquatics, succulents, bryophytes, ferns, orchids, herbs, and woody plants are used for teaching general botany, systematics, taxonomy, plant ecology, and plant anatomy to name a few. The greenhouse and garden also provide a space for the students and faculty of the Department of Botany to carry out research on a diverse array of species with extensive morphological variation. The Botany Greenhouses and Garden become an integral part of the student’s experience here on campus, as well as provide public tours throughout the year.


Dr. Ingrid Jordon-Thaden, photo by Sarah Fredrich

The Director of the Botany Garden and Greenhouses of the UW Madison Botany Department is Dr. Ingrid Jordon-Thaden. She is an Omaha native that comes to us from a strong background of horticulture, taxonomy, and systematics of plant teaching and research. She received her bachelor degrees from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Horticulture and Chemistry, then a masters of biology from UNL in corn biology. Her PhD in Plant Systematics and Biodiversity of Brassicaceae (mustard family) was obtained from the University of Heidelberg. She then continued her research in plant speciation at the University of Florida, University of California-Berkeley, and Bucknell University.


Cara Streekstra has been with the Botany Garden and Greenhouses for over eight years, and has become our resident expert! She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Botany here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cara then gained 7 years of experience in production horticulture in Oregon before she returned to Madison to join our team. Without Cara’s institutional knowledge of the greenhouses, garden, and the living collection, we would all be lost! She is currently taking on the large effort of updating and formally databasing our living collection in a joint project with the Wisconsin State Herbarium.

Working in extremely hot conditions with outside temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Cara Streekstra, horticulturalist, waters plants in the Birge Hall greenhouse at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on June 28, 2012. The heat and humidity level inside the greenhouse were even higher than those outside. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)


Molly Campbell is our new Horticulture Technician since August 2019. We are excited to have her onboard as she brings over 10 years of professional horticulture experience to our team! Molly has been exploring many different aspects of greenhouse culture from GMO soybeans to organic herb and vegetable seedling production. Molly is now responsible for the Integrated Pest Management that we have been implementing in the greenhouse more heavily for three years. She is excited to spend more time learning about the vast taxonomic collection she now has been tasked to care for.


Nick Ruby is our permanent, part-time gardener that helps in all ways possible to maintain both the garden and the greenhouse all year long. He has been with us for 4 years. Nick grew up in Verona around farming and crop production. As his time with us grows, he is becoming an expert in organic lawn care in the Botany Garden. Being around the soothing atmosphere of plants and part of the plant education is why he likes working here.

Nick Ruby posing in the Botany Garden. Photo by I.E. Jordon-Thaden