This 12,500 sq. ft. facility is designed to function as a living laboratory for the department's plant and ecology related courses, as well as research space for faculty and graduate students. More than 6,000 exotic plants, representing over 1,200 distinct species, are maintained in the Teaching Greenhouse. Four simulated environments - tropical, warm temperate, cool temperate and desert - facilitate students' understanding of the diversity of plant species and their ecologies. All plants are labeled with information regarding their taxonomies, geographic origins, common names and economic uses.
In 1961 Binghamton's first campus greenhouse was added to the newly completed campus science complex: present day Science 1. Although it was small (only 480 square feet), it proved innovative. For the first time living plant materials could be provided year-round for botany related coursework. Previously, only dried plant specimens and plant parts preserved in alcohol were available.
The first greenhouse held nearly 200 plant species; but soon it couldn't keep pace with the ever-expanding course demands.
A new 2,500 square foot structure was completed in 1965 - one that was divided into four climate zones: tropical, warm temperate/subtropical, cool temperate, and desert. The year 1973 saw the completion of a totally new Biological Sciences building and the department moved, leaving the greenhouse behind. For 8 years the plants for classes were transported across campus in all weather; special insulated boxes were used in the cold months.
The rapid growth of the botany program necessitated a new structure - much larger and better equipped. The present greenhouse was completed and occupied in 1981 and has been supporting botany & ecology on campus for over 35 years. The greenhouse employs one full-time and one three-quarter time staff, who are assisted each semester by a select number of student volunteers.