Grassy Field

Living Plant Collections

The living collections at Denver Botanic Gardens are one of the most diverse in North America with seven major collections identified.

Denver Botanic Gardens is 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 (here is the 2022-2023 Desiderata) and purchased from nurseries and garden centers. Each plant (or group of plants of the same taxon 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, a notation of the date of bloom, map 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.

The living collections are available to outside researchers, botanists and horticulturists to utilize for their projects with advance approval by filling out the Material Transfer Agreement form. Please complete this form and have permission granted one business week before intended collection date.

Here is our Living Collections Strategy.

alpine collection

Consists of plants that grow in habitats such as rock crevices and exposed locations.

amenity collection

Showcases plants of the Rocky Mountain and Great Plains Region, a semi-arid, steppe climate.

aquatic collection

Comprises plants that have adapted to living in or on aquatic environments, otherwise known as hydrophytic plants or hydrophytes.

Cactus and Succulents

Consists of water-retaining plants that are adapted to arid climates and soil conditions.

Native Plants

Displays plants that have occurred naturally within the borders of Colorado since before the European settlement, but that are not necessarily endemic to Colorado.


Plants from regions located away from the ocean and close to mountain barriers with low humidity.

tropical collection

Showcases plants that are found in lowland tropical rainforests.

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