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.


The Botany Department has invited a new Director of the Botany Garden and Greenhouses! Dr. Ingrid Jordon-Thaden, an Omaha native, 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 six 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.

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)


Leah has joined our team this summer as our new full-time Horticulture Technician.She comes to us from University of Illinois at Chicago where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in public health and developed an interest in urban greenspace use. She received her Associates Degree from University of Wisconsin-Rock County, and hails from South Beloit, Illinois. We are excited to have someone like Leah on our team who has the combination of a life-long experience with horticulture and passion for botanical public education. She has a particular interest in garden programming with high-school aged youth and will be spear-heading projects in our own garden in the upcoming years.


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 almost 2 years, and recently joined us as a permanent staff member. Nick grew up in Verona around farming and crop production. Being around the soothing atmosphere of plants and part of the plant education is why he likes working here.