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Many of the world’s display gardens exist to lend beauty to an estate home or palace. At Longwood, however, it’s our plants that take center stage.
Since our plant collection first began in 1798 with the Peirce Family, its scope and size has grown. Our current collection of more than 10,000 different kinds of plants rivals the collections of other great gardens and exists to support our mission.
To ensure that this treasured collection is developed and managed appropriately, we adopted our Plant Collection Policy in 2011. This policy establishes the scope of our collection, defines our core collections, and maps our approach to acquisition, record keeping, distribution and other key functions.
Offering Beauty and Function
Every plant in our collection is accessioned and fulfills one of the following functions:
- Heritage: essential for preservation of Longwood Garden’s legacy and/or America’s horticultural heritage
- Display: serves a purpose in our seasonal or permanent exhibits
- Educational: supports the lessons taught in our classes
- Research: used in our scientific activities
- Environmental: plays a critical role in our ecosystem
- Germplasm preservation: essential to the preservation of rare or endangered species and horticultural schemes
Our Core Collections
Plant collections that are rare, of historical value or have a dominant role in the Gardens are often earmarked as a part of our core collection. We have 17 core collections and maintain plans for the development, management and display of each one.
The purpose of the plant collection is to support our mission: “Longwood Gardens is the living legacy of Pierre S. du Pont, inspiring people through excellence in garden design, horticulture, education and the arts.”
There are more than 10,000 taxa (including different species, varieties, and cultivars) of cultivated plants growing at Longwood, representing more than 200 different plant families. Some of the most notable families represented by the largest number of taxa include:
- Orchidaceae with more than 2,000 taxa
- Asteraceae with over 700 taxa
- Rosaceae with more than 300 taxa
- Liliaceae with over 300 taxa
More than 200 different types of ferns can be found in the Gardens. Fifty species and varieties of palms grace indoor areas. On the other hand, there are 32 lesser-known families represented by only a single species each.