Tropical House in the Conservatory
at Matthaei Botanical Gardens
Plant diversity abounds in the tropical house, where lush vegetation grows in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Plants in the tropical house are from warm, frost-free climates, making this a great place to visit year-round and especially in winter. Many plants flower continuously– the orchid and bromeliad displays are changed each week. Others, such as the sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata) and tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata), flower in the summer. Food-oriented visitors can look for the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao), bananas (Musa), pineapples (Ananas), black pepper (Piper), and coffee (Coffea).
This is an engaging teaching collection that has taken a century to build. Themes include evolutionary relationships and novelties, co-evolutionary adaptations, culturally important human domesticates and, reflective of our times, at-risk species. Our oldest plants were acquired in 1910 when the teaching collection consisted of potted plants grown in a greenhouse at what is now Nichols Arboretum.