Carleton University has one of the best university greenhouse complexes in Canada. This facility is used for research, teaching and display to the general public. The greenhouses hold comprehensive plant collection of several thousand specimens ranging from popular crop species such as corn, soybean, papaya, banana and sugarcane to some quite unusual desert specimens. Welwitschia, usually found only in the Namib desert regions of South West Africa, resides in our own desert room.
Climate controlled display houses simulating tropical and temperate environments, 18 houses containing teaching and research material and a number of controlled environment chambers and rooms all make up approximately 10,000 square feet of a unique research, teaching and learning environment.
The Biology Department greenhouses were built in the late 1960s, and were designed with the help of Dr. John Webb, Dr. George Setterfield, Dr. Frank Wightman, and Hank Datema, who was curator of the greenhouses until his retirement in the fall of 1995. Originally, the facilities consisted of three display houses and 18 houses dedicated to teaching and research. When the Environmental Laboratories Biology Annex (ELBA) building was expanded, one of the display houses was removed.
Teaching and Research
Our Greenhouse Manager, Ed Bruggink, is responsible for all aspects of the growing and maintenance of the collection and resources. The greenhouses provide its users with all the growing facilities and plant material required for research and teaching year-round. Undergraduate students are introduced to the greenhouses at the first year level and can continue to use the facilities in more advanced studies of plant morphology, biochemistry, biotechnology, physiology and plant/animal interactions, just to name a few.
The display houses are open to the public for self-guided tours (Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.). Garden plot facilities are also available and in use by various institutions. Come visit our greenhouse facilities and experience the ‘real, live thing’!
Location: Nesbitt Biology Building, Carleton University
Hours of operation: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Year opened: 1968
Normal temperature: 23 °C
Maximum temperature: 40 °C
Full time staff: 1
Number of species: 300+
Number of plants in the greenhouses: 1,000
Number of greenhouses: 2 display, 12 research and course work houses
Total size of display greenhouses: 1,017 square feet and 618 square feet
Total size of research and course workhouses: 3,267 square feet
Amount of soil used per year: 182.4 cubic feet
Oldest plant: Ponderosa Lemon (California hybrid), 33 years old
Most exotic plants: Poinsiana pulcherrima (West Indies), Welwitschia marabilis (Africa), Camellia japonica (Japan-Korea), Erythrina crista-calli (Brazil)
Biggest flower: Sun and Sand Hibiscus (Australia): 22 cm wide
Plant with smallest maximum size: Lemna (duckweed): 1 cm
Tallest plant: Chorisia speciosa (floss silk tree): 7 metres
Average number of visitors per year: 10,000-12,000.
Watering schedule: from once every 4 days to twice per day
Strangest request: to use the greenhouses as a setting for a murder scene in the movie Posers, directed by alumna Katie Tallo.
For more information on the Carleton Greenhouses Contact Ed Bruggink