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Plant Collections

The living collections at Denver Botanic Gardens are very diverse with seven major collections identified:

Alpine, which consists of plants that grow in habitats such as rock crevices and exposed locations.
Amenity, which showcases plants of the Rocky Mountain and Plains region, a semi-arid, steppe climate.
Aquatic, also called hydrophytic plants or hydrophytes, are plants that have adapted to living in or on aquatic environments.
Cactus and Succulents, which consist of water-retaining plants adapted to arid climate or soil conditions.
Native, which are plants that occur naturally (pre-European settlement) within the borders of Colorado, but are not necessarily exclusive to Colorado.
Steppe are plants from regions located away from the ocean and close to mountain barriers with low humidity.
Tropical showcases plants found in the lowland tropical rainforests around the world.

students at Denver Botanic GardensEmail us at horticulture@botanicgardens.org with your questions.


Denver Botanic Gardens functions as a living museum. We exhaustively document our plants from seed to compost and capture every stage of the plant life cycle.

Plants are collected from the wild, received through exchanges such as Index Seminum, and purchased from nurseries and garden centers. Each plant (or group of plants of same taxa and source) that comes into the Gardens is entered into our database. This allows us to track everything about a plant including its health, size, and current and past locations.

The depth of information may include the carefully measured trunk diameter of a champion tree, notation of date of bloom, GPS coordinates and notes of performance for a plant in a test garden. This data is part of what makes Denver Botanic Gardens a world-class botanical resource.

Plant database and mapping

Check out our database mapping software of our living collections. You can expand your search to the RBGE multisite, which contains plant data from over two dozen of the top botanic organizations from around the world.

Each year Denver Botanic Gardens publishes an Index Seminum, our index of seeds. Seeds collected from our living collections and from natural areas in the region are included on this list along with information about their provenance (original source or collection location). The Gardens distributes the list to botanic gardens and research institutions around the world and then sends seeds upon their request. This historic program traces its roots to early botanic gardens in Europe and is a low-cost method for gardens to share seeds with their international colleagues, increase collections and test new varieties.

Nomenclatural and Taxonomic Research

Researching correct nomenclature for our collections is a time-consuming task. We utilize various online databases, reference books, monographs, floras and taxonomic journals to verify the accuracy of each name as well as to add other information about each plant, such as cultural, nativity and descriptive data. The International Code of Botanical Nomenclature and the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants are used to assist in clarifying difficult nomenclatural issues.

Some of the most commonly used references include: