10 Fascinating Facts about Botanical Gardens

Thursday, March 31, 2022 10:30:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Botanical gardens are green havens during dark winters, in arid landscapes, and amidst sprawling urban cities. But did you know that the root of these lush habitats go back as far as the second millennium BCE? Since their inception, botanical gardens have been a source of wonder, education, and joy. Let these fascinating facts about botanical gardens transport you to some of the most beautiful locations on Earth! 

Photo by Jana Briede

  • Botanical gardens not only showcase unique flora, they’re also used to house living plant collections as well as safeguard rare plant species. Among them are night-blooming flowers, curative herbs, and carnivorous plants!
  • The world’s oldest botanical garden still in existence is the Orto botanico di Padova, which was developed in 1545. It is located in the northeastern region of Italy. The garden was originally dedicated to the growth of medicinal plants and continues to maintain its commitment to botanical education today. 
  • Botanical gardens exchange seeds by sharing seed lists–a practice that was popularized in the 19th century and continues to this day. 
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, it was not uncommon for botanical gardens to be a part of colonial pursuits. The gardens were used to nurture foreign plants that could be used for trade, commerce, and science. 
  • One of the largest botanical gardens in the world is located in the Bronx, New York City. It houses over 12,000 species and employs over 600 staff. The New York Botanical Garden has been proclaimed a national historical landmark. 
  • Some plants in the U.S. Botanic Garden, the national garden on the grounds of the Capitol, has obtained some plants through confiscation at the borders. It is one of few centers in the country that is allowed to do so under an international treaty.  
  • Botanical gardens became more prevalent in the 16th and 17th centuries during the Age of Enlightenment when botany became a formal field of study in the sciences. 
  • Germany and Italy are the top two countries with the most botanical gardens on the UNESCO world heritage site list. Both countries have six gardens each listed in this renowned catalog of historical and awe-inspiring sites. 
  • The largest botanical garden in the world is the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Located in southwest London, it is over 300 acres wide, holds 8.3 million plant specimens, and has nearly 2.5 million annual visitors. 
  • While botanical garden have traditionally been used for pleasure and research, the 21st century has seen many shift their focus to raising public awareness about human-plant interactions and the importance of sustainability and conservation. 

Whether we’re seeking a break from skyscraper-filled horizons or a hectic work day, botanical gardens have long been a sweet respite from our everyday surroundings. Visit your local garden today to get your dose of green scenery and support the important work that they’re doing! 

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