A collections evaluation or audit is defined as the process in which a curator reviews the value of accessions to the institution. The Quercus collection, located on the east side of the Arboretum, is one of The Morton Arboretum’s most valuable and respected collections. Though relatively large, the Quercus collection is still prone to crowding and space needs due to the mature size of the majority of accessions. Performing a collections evaluation at this time was necessary to allow the institution to formally review the value of the Quercus collection, deaccession surplus plants, and strategically plan the acquisition of new plant material.
The goals of this collections evaluation were as follows:
1. Perform necessary maintenance
2. Review all data for the acquisition, collection, and cultivation of Quercus species at The Morton Arboretum
3. Document informal propagation experiments and germination rates for rarely cultivated taxa
4. Document and resolve identification and determination issues
5. Determine which taxa are overrepresented and may be deaccessioned
6. Address taxa of conservation concern and set framework for ex situ collection
7. Identify target taxa to bring collection holdings to a goal of 100 taxa
8. Review current interpretive content and recommend improvements
It is important to distinguish between the Quercus collection, the fixed area on the Arboretum’s east side, and the Quercus holdings, referring to all accessioned Quercus taxa located on the Arboretum’s grounds. Though data for all living and historic Quercus holdings were reviewed in this process, the final goal, referencing interpretive content and improvements, only refers to the Quercus collection proper.