In Search of the Unknown Palm

A Matching Gift for Explorers to Bring Rare Plants Back to the Gables

September 2018

For those aware that Coral Gables is home to the Montgomery Botanical Center, here is some good news: Dr. Lin Lougheed, world traveler and expert in English language instruction, has offered $100,000 in matching funds to create an MBC Plant Exploration Fund. 

The Montgomery center is located off Old Cutler Road, on the former 120-acre Coral Gables estate of Col. Robert and Nell Montgomery, the founders of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Nell turned the property into a nonprofit institution devoted to research about tropical palms and cycads in 1959. 

The center has 430 different palm species, says Dr. Patrick Griffith, the center’s executive director, but seeks more. “This plant exploration fund supports work by our scientists, or scientists from abroad, to go out into wild places on the earth and find rare plants, learn about them, study them, and grow them,” says Griffith (pictured in the Dominican Republic, left, above). Dr. Lougheed, a Fellow of the NYC Explorer’s Club who lives on Miami Beach – and who has published 40 books on teaching English as a foreign language – believes that “all things begin with plants.” 

Lougheed has gone exploring in Madagascar and remains a devoted supporter of the Montgomery center. “All the scientists who work there are unbelievably dedicated and smart,” he says. “And they are very cautious with money. Anything you give them will not be frittered away.”