Skip navigation links

Plant Collections

The W.J. Beal Botanical Garden has established a curated collection of plants in support of research and teaching at Michigan State University. Plants are selected to contribute to research and teaching themes and to illustrate the many connections between humankind and plants. Over 2,000 plants are represented in our collections and most are labeled to provide context and taxonomic information.

Our collections are organized into three main groups: our core collections are organized in beds and these generally have the most interpretive information associated with them; our thematic collections are primarily distributed in the surrounding areas such as our hillsides, garden pond, the banks of the Red Cedar river and in Sleepy Hollow (across West Circle Drive); and our virtual collections, which are accessible via our Virtual Garden Map and are used to highlight conceptual groupings of plants when they are not grouped together in the Garden space. For instance, native Michigan plants are distributed throughout the Garden and can be visualized on the Virtual Garden Map.

Map of W.J. Beal Garden


Our collections include plants we have imported from all across the world, each chosen for specific purposes, each with provenance data, and many of wild origin. Because our collection is so diverse, the plants have vastly different growing requirements, including plants from habitats such as prairies or alpine environments, tropical plants that must be moved to greenhouses every winter, and annual plants that must be sown each year. 

Choosing these plants, ethically and legally acquiring them, and growing and maintaining them is a tremendously intensive process. Please consider supporting our collections by giving to the Garden. 

MSU Giving


Photos courtesy of Anna McGuffie (Opuntia humifusa, left; Psilotum nudum, center) and Dr. Peter Carrington (Stapelia gigantea, right).