US (MI): Greenhouse provides teaching, relaxation at CMU

In a side room at Central Michigan University is a massive agave plant. It’s nearly as old as the building that first opened its doors in the mid-1990s.

The plant, which provides nectar that is used both as a sweetener and to make tequila, is as tall as a person and has fronds that drape over and lay on the floor. It’s in a room dedicated to succulents, including an impressive array of cacti.

In the main chamber are tall plants with broad leaves. The room is kept warm and humid to simulate a tropical environment, said Karin Johnson, CMU’s greenhouse manager. There are also two pools in the room.

The greenhouse offers a place to give an introduction to biology students and an eyes-on lesson about plants. Each of the rooms simulates the conditions of different environments. In addition to the succulent and tropical rooms, there’s a room for aquatic plants and a room for ferns. The ferns provide a glimpse of how life has evolved on earth.


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