1936-2021 | 85 years as the Keeper of the Trees
Since 1936 when we were founded by the federal government as part of the Depression Era recovery efforts, we have been faithful to our mission to preserve, protect and sustain our sensitive tropical eco-system. Unlike traditional botanical gardens, we recognize the importance of native plants and species in a natural conservation habitat.
In 2006, the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden conducted an extensive examination of its history, its original structures and plants and developed a long-range strategic plan for growing and improving the Garden facilities, education programs and botanical expertise. That project serves as the blueprint for our future.
The Key West Botanical Garden Society
The society preserves, develops, expands and maintains the historic Key West Botanical Garden as an arboretum, botanical garden, wildlife refuge and education center. The land is owned by the City of Key West
This society encourages study of this collection and promotes the benefits of native vegetation worldwide. The society provides educational programs for all age groups and various levels of interest geared to Keys residents, tourists, plant experts and others.
As a registered not-for-profit corporation, the board is committed to the strictest standards for this type of company. Please review the Key West Botanical Garden Society Code of Ethical Conduct to see how we operate in practice.
You can review our required public documents and operating budgets for free at our GuideStar Profile.
About the Garden
We are the only “frost-free,” subtropical forest and botanical garden in the continental United States. A tropical environment with ample rain allows most trees to retain their leaves in the dry season (December through late May). It is home to endangered and threatened flora and fauna. Unlike traditional botanical gardens, this garden advocates the importance of native plants and species through education in a natural conservation habitat.
The garden is a major migratory stopping point for neo-tropical birds from places as far as South America and home to many rare birds in the Florida Keys.
Enjoy this tropical forest and garden for a chance to view rare butterflies, migratory and resident birds, tropical and subtropical plants and beautiful flowers.
A visit begins with a smiling volunteer greeter at our education center. See a short film to familiarize yourself with the operation and browse the photo walls. Pick up a garden guide that describes the eight self-guided information tours, two wetland habitats and two butterfly gardens.
The lush courtyard has a waterfall wall of tropical plants and the turtles happily show off their home. Meander through a one-acre butterfly habitat with over 39 Identified species. Stroll through a lush canopy of tropical trees. Discover the hidden pond and maybe see a rare resident white crowned pigeon or bald eagle!
The purpose of the Key West Botanical Society is to preserve, develop, expand and maintain the historic Key West Botanical Garden as an arboretum, botanical garden, cultural heritage museum, wildlife refuge and education center.
The Key West Botanical Garden was founded and developed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration as a showplace for tourists during the Depression in the 1930’s when Key West went bankrupt. Simply click on the globe and explore our fascinating history.
We are grateful to our partners for their continuing support
Meet our staff and board of directors
Misha D. McRAE | Executive Director
Misha D. McRAE is executive director of the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden. A 23 year resident of Key West, Misha McRAE was a business owner who joined the Key West Botanical Garden Society in 1997 – first as a volunteer, then as a Society member, a member of the Board of Directors and ultimately hired as the first Executive Administrator in 2004. With a degree in mathematics and accounting, he applied his administrative, financial, HR and customer service background to help the organization grow. You may contact him at [email protected]
Our board officers
Ed Cunningham, President
Joy Taylor, Vice President
Audrey Thompson, Secretary
Mary Chandler, Treasurer
Karen Frank-Noll | General Manager
Karen Frank-Noll is general manager of the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden. She holds a degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Being an environmentalist and avid gardener, along with her extensive experience in non-profit operations, makes Karen a natural fit for the Garden. You may contact her directly at [email protected]
Ed Cunningham | Board President
Key West resident Ed Cunningham is president of the board. He is owner of Tree Priorities, which provides arboriculture management services to homeowners and municipalities. He is a Certified Tree Expert and a park ranger at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Contact him at [email protected]