Garden – A Centre of
Excellence for Conservation,
Education and Bio-Aesthetics
Anil K. Goel*, R. K. Roy* & S. C. Sharma**
National Botanical Research
Institute (NBRI) at Lucknow (India) is one of the significant plant based
national laboratory in India under the Council of Scientific & Industrial
Research (CSIR), New Delhi. It was originally set-up by Government of Uttar
Pradesh during 1948 as National Botanic Gardens (NBG) and later on taken
over by CSIR in 1953.
The Botanic Garden at NBRI has
been well known all over the world. It is the third largest and one of the
oldest Botanic Gardens in India, besides Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah and
Lalbaugh Gardens, Bangalore. Spread over in an area of 25 hectares, it is
located in the heart of Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh along
southern bank of river Gomti. It is reputed for its well identified and
aesthetically displayed plant wealth to capture a living nucleus of various
plant species for posterity. Botanic Garden is also a member of BGCI, U.K.
and International Association of Botanic Gardens (IABG). A repository of
germplasm collection of various tropical and sub-tropical plant species,
comprising 5,000 taxa, representing 212 families, the Botanic Garden has
rich genetic treasure with the collection of trees, shrubs and herbs of
ornamental, economic, medicinal, aromatic and rare importance, hailing from
the indigenous and exotic sources.
The Botanic Garden surrounds,
within its limits, historical ‘Sikander Bagh’ laid out around 1800 AD as a
royal garden by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan and later adapted by Nawab Wajid Ali
Shah, the last King of Avadh, during the first half of the 19th
century. It was Nawab Wajid Ali Shah who gave to the garden its name
‘Sikander Bagh’, after his favourite queen, Sikander Mahal Begum.
A repository of germplasm
collection of diversified groups of taxa with special reference to rare,
endangered, endemic, ornamental and economic plant species.
multiplication, acclimatization, assessment and documentation of taxa
procured from world over for developing wide genetic base.
Domestication of wild plant
species of ornamental significance.
Development of new and
novel ornamental cultivars for commercial exploitation.
Exchange and sale of plant
material to the connoisseurs. Supply of authentic plant material for
research institutes, universities and other organizations.
participation in Flower Shows and Science Exhibitions.
Organization of training
courses in Commercial Floriculture.
advice/consultancy on landscaping and establishment of Botanic Gardens.
Plant wealth of over 5,000
species/cultivars in the Botanic Garden is displayed in Arboretum,
Conservatory, Cactus & Succulent House, Fern House, Orchidarium, Palm House.
A brief account of the arboretum, plant houses and the most popular
ornamental crops available in the garden has been furnished below.
The arboretum covers an area of
7 hectares and comprising nearly 400 species of trees and shrubs. Some of
the notable indigenous and exotic tree species are: Adansonia digitata,
Aegle marmelos, Alstonia macrophylla, Annona muricata, Bauhinia variegata,
Brachychiton rupestris, Bixa orellana, Boswellia serrata, Butea monosperma,
Chorisia x insigniosa, C. insignis, Coccoloba uvifera, Dalbergia sissoo,
Dillenia indica, Ficus benghalensis, F. krishnae, F. religiosa, Jacaranda
cuspidifolia, J. mimosaefolia, Kigelia pinnata, Mitragyna parviflora,
Oroxylum indicum, Pterocarpus marsupium, Santalum album, Shorea robusta,
Strychnos nux-vomica, Syzygium jambos, Tabebuia palmeri, Tecomella undulata,
Tectona grandis, Terminalia arjuna, and Wrightia tinctoria etc.
An arch-shaped plant house, in
an area of 1370 sq. m., is meant for conservation of indoor plants from
tropics and sub-tropics of the world. Nearly 500 species/ cultivars are
punctuated in beds and pots aesthetically. Few novel and interesting taxa
are: Alocasia x amazonica, Bambusa ventricosa, Dracaena marginata
'Tricolor', Fatsia papyrifera, Ficus 'Long Island', Ginkgo biloba,
Heliconia rostrata, Hoya wighti, Nandina domestica, Pachystachys
lutea, Vanilla planifolia etc. Besides, a large collection of
Aglaonema, Alocasia,Anthurium, Asparagus, Calathea, Chlorophytum, Codiaeum,
Dieffenbachia, Dracaena, Maranta, Peperomia, Philodendron, Pandanus,
Syngonium is also displayed aesthetically.
A pagoda shaped glass house
meant for the germplasm collection of cacti and succulents from arid regions
is centrally located in 284 sq. m area. It conserves about 350
species/varieties. Pants have been displayed in raised beds and in pots.
Some of the notable taxa are: Adenium obesum, Agave parviflora,
Beaucarnea recurvata, Cephalocereus senilis, Cereus grandiflorus, C.
peruvianus, Cotyledon orbiculata, Dudleya virens, Dykia remotifolia,
Echinocactus grusonii, Euphorbia splendens, Gasteria maculata, Gymnocalycium
mibanovichii, Haworthia fasciata, Kalanchoe marmorata, Mammillaria echinata,
Melocactus nerye, N. stricta, Notonia grandiflora, Opuntia argentina, O.
microdasys 'Albida', Pereskia aculeata, Stapelia gigantea, and
Y. filamentosa and some of the grafted cacti. Besides, a unique
gymnosperm, Welwitschia mirabilis known as “Tree Tumbo” has been
introduced from NBI, Kirstenbosch, RSA during 1989. This species has only 2
leaves throughout its life-span (over 500 years) which elongate continuously
in opposite direction. It is very important from educational and
evolutionary point of view. Among SAARC nations only NBRI Botanic Garden
possesses this extremely rare taxon.
The specially constructed house
for growing ferns and fern allies is pyramidal in shape in an area of 400
sq.m. A germplasm collection comprising 60 species is being maintained in
fern house. Notable taxa are: Adiantum capillus-veneris, A. peruvianum,
Anemia royundifolia, Blechnum occidentale, Bolbitis heteroclite, Diplazium
esculentum, Drynaria quercifolia, Equisetum arvense, E. debile, Lygodium
flexuosum, Microsorium alternifolium, Nephrolepis cordifolia, N. cordifolia
cv. ‘duffii’, N. tuberosa, Ophioglossum reticulatum,
Psilotum nudum, Pteris cretica cv. ‘Albolineata’, etc.
Orchids are a wondrous group of
flowering plants known for their floral beauty, diversity and specific
habitats. They belong to the family Orchidaceae. Orchid flowers are
spectacularly beautiful in wide array of colours and aroma. They have the
vase life of 10-30 days and in great demand in the floriculture trade. India
has a rich wealth of 170 genera and about 1200 species of orchids. More than
150 taxa of Indian orchids are of floricultural significance. Hardy species
of orchids particularly from tropical and sub-tropical regions are being
conserved in the newly installed Orchidarium. A collection of about 50
species including the genera Arachnis, Coelogyne, Dendrobium, Eria,
Paphiopedilum (Lady's Slipper Orchids), Peristylis, Spathoglottis,
Phaius, Pholidota, Renanthera, Rhynchostylis, Vanda and Vanilla has
been developed for conservation. Some well known orchid cultivars like,
Arachnis 'Apple Blossum", 'Annix- Black', 'Spider Orchid', Aranda
'Mosaic Magic', Dendrobium 'Soniard', Vanda 'Diana',
'John-club', 'Prolific', 'Tricolour', 'Miss Jaquine' are also introduced.
Palm House covering an area of
765 sq. m., is maintaining the plant resources of family Arecaceae. Palm
collections comprise over 70 species displayed in pots of various sizes and
in the ground as well. Noteworthy taxa are: Arenga pinnata, Caryota mitis,
C. urens, Chamaedorea elegans, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Cocos nucifera,
Elaies guineensis, Licuala grandis, Livistona chinensis, Phoenix reclinata,
P. rupicola, Ptychosperma macarthurii, Sabal palmetto, Thrinax barbadensis
and Washingtonia filifera etc.
The technique of Bonsai is very
popular throughout the world. A rich collection is maintained exhibiting 250
specimens trained in different styles for aesthetic and educative purpose.
Some of them are even 45-50 years old. Important species are:
Acacia gotezai, Achrus sapota, Bambusa ventricosa, Callistemon lanceolatus,
Citrus microcarpa, Cycas revoluta, Drypetes roxburghii, Ficus benjamina
nuda, F. indica, F. infectoria, Ficus ‘Long Island’, Morinda
tinctoria, Psidium guajava, Punica granatum etc. Ficus spp. with
their prop roots, are major attraction.
Bougainvillea is a
popular ornamental plant grown throughout the tropics and sub-tropics. This
genus belongs to family Nyctageniaceae and was first reported by Commerson,
a French Botanist from Rio-De-Janeiro, Brazil. Later, it was taken to Europe
and subsequently introduced in India during 1860. A rich germplasm
collection of 200 species/cultivars has been built-up in Bougainvillea
Garden exhibiting about 165 varieties as per specific layout plan. The
Institute has evolved 22 new cultivars like: ‘Shubhra’, ‘Begum Sikander’,
‘Wajid Ali Shah’, Mary Palmer Special’, ‘Chitra’, ‘Hawain Beauty’, ‘Arujna’,
'Aruna', ‘Los Banos Variegata’, ‘Mahara Variegata’, ‘Pallavi’, ‘Royal
Daupline’ etc. which are highly popular in nursery and floricultural trade.
Canna has magnificent
flowers in different colours (bicoloured, spotted, blotched, margined) and
remain in bloom almost round the year. A germplasm collection of nearly 50
cultivars is being maintained. Some of the notable ones are: ‘Assault’,
‘Black Knight’, ‘Butter Cup’, ‘King Alfred’, ‘King Humbert’, ‘Lucifer’, ‘Presdient’,
‘Striatus’, ‘New Red’, ‘Orange King’ and 'Trinacria Variegata'. Two new
cultivars have been recently developed: Canna generalis ‘Kanchan’ and
Canna generalis ‘Agnisikha’.
Chrysanthemum (Asteraceae), is
a significant floral crop all over the world. Chrysanthemum is native to
China and the National Flower of Japan. The Institute has a status of a
National Repository of Chrysanthemum maintaining the largest collection of
250 cultivars. Of these, eighty are evolved at NBRI by conventional method
or through mutation breeding. Some of the important cultivars viz.: ‘Ajai’,
‘Apsara’, ‘Bindiya’, ‘Birbal Sahani’, ‘Chandi’ ‘Gauri’, ‘Guldusta’, ‘Jaya’,
‘Jayanti’, ‘Jubilee’, ‘Kundan’, ‘Lilith’, ‘Maghi’, ‘Peet Singar’, ‘Sharad
Mala’, ‘Sharad Har’, ‘Shyamal’, ‘Suneel’, ‘Vasantika’, etc. have become
immensely popular among growers and find mention in leading nursery
catalogues. A large number of ‘Dwarf-No- Pinch' type varieties have been
selected and suitable for mini-pot culture. A Mini Chrysanthemum cv. 'Mother
Teresa' got US Patent (Patent No. PP 13678) during 2003.
Cycads are considered as
the Living Fossils. They belong to a group of plants having ancient lineage
possessing great significance from the evolutionary point of view and have
been known from early Permian period, nearly 225 million years ago.
A rich germplasm collection of
cycads comprising 35 species under 8 genera viz.: Cycas, Dioon,
Encephalartos, Lepidozamia, Macrozamia, Microcycas, Stangeria and
Zamia, hailing from various phyto-geographical regions of Australia,
India, South Africa and South America. This is the richest collection of
cycads among all the Botanic Gardens in India. Further, collection of Cycads
viz.: Microcycas calocoma, Zamia floridana, Z. furfuracea, Z.
portoricensis in the Conservatory is of high academic significance from
evolutionary point of view. Microcycas calocoma is a extremely rare
cycad, introduced in the garden from Cuba and designated as the National
Plant of Cuba.
Gladiolus is a native of South
Africa and belongs to family Iridaceae. Its cut-flowers can stay fresh for
5-6 days and used for vase decoration as well as bouquets. Foreseeing its
immense potentiality as cut-flower in floricultural trade, NBRI initiated R
& D work during 1970s for developing the new cultivars and standardization
of agro-technology for commercial cultivation suitable for north Indian
plains. Germplasm collection of 110 varieties has been developed besides
development of new cultivars. Notable ones are: ‘Rashmi’, ‘Surekha’,
‘Tambari, ‘Classic White, ‘Neelima’ and ‘Urvashi. Training programmes have
been organized for the transfer of technology to nearly 1000 progressive
farmers and entrepreneurs all over the country along with planting material
under the Rural Development Programme.
Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.,
the ‘Sacred Lotus’ is an elegant creation of nature. Genus Nelumbo
belongs to family Nelumbonaceae and is represented by two species namely,
N. lutea ‘Yellow Lotus’. Since ancient times, lotus flower has been
considered as a divine symbol of purity and peace. Nelumbo is also an
important ornamental in floriculture and landscaping. Germplasm collection
of Indian and exotic races in different shades of pink, white and yellow is
being maintained in the aquatic bodies of the Botanic Garden. Besides, the
germplasm collection of Nymphaeas and Euryale ferox (Makhana) is also
being conserved in the aquatic bodies.
It is one of the most
significant and paramount activities for the enrichment of germplasm
collection and developing wide genetic base. Plant material is procured from
over 150 Botanic Gardens in India and abroad on exchange. Some of the
important plant species recently introduced in the garden are: Adansonia
Adenanthera microsperma, Billergia alfonsi-jonnis,
Clerodendrum speciosissimum, Coreopsis grandiflora,
Crescentia mirabilis, Dasilirion glucophyllum, D.
serratifolium, Draecana draco, Ephedra tweediana, Hernandia
nymphaefolia, Hesperaloe parviflora, Jacaranda cuspidifolia,
Khaya senegalensis, Nolina longifolia, N.
stricta, Pavetta revoluta, Senecio confuses,
Sophora secundiflora, and Zamia pumila, etc.
Flora of Indian subcontinent is
very rich in diversity and endemism. Due to various natural and
developmental activities, over 4,000 taxa are under varying degrees of
threat or even have become extinct. NBRI Botanic Garden plays important role
in the conservation of genetic diversity and acts as an ideal centre for
preserving RET taxa. A rich collection of some rare endangered, endemic and
threatened plants consists of Adhatoda beddomei,
Allium hookerii, Anogeissus sericea var. nummularia, Commiphora wightii,
Cycas beddomei, C. pectinata, Dendrobium nobile, Dischidia
benghalensis, Erythrina resupinata, Frerea indica, Grewia optiva,
Hoya wightii, Hyphaene dichotoma, Phoenix rupicola,
Rauvolfia serpentina, Sophora mollis, Tecomella
undulata, Trachycarpus takil, Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla walkerii, Walsura
A Touch –'n'-Smell Garden is
spread over an area of 0.1 ha has been developed for blinds and physically
disabled persons. Hanging potted plants are displayed at a convenient height
so that disabled visitors in wheel chairs can easily touch, feel and smell
them. Plant labels and legends displayed are written in Braille system.
Pre-recorded information through audio system has also been installed. A
variety of plant species either having fragrant flowers, aromatic / coarse
leaves have been planted in this garden. Some of the notable ones are:
Buddelia madagascarensis, Cestrum nocturnum, Crinum
asiaticum, Cymbopogon martini, Ixora parviflora, Jasminum
spp., Lantana camara ‘Flava’, Nyctanthes arbortristis,
Ocimums and Polianthes tuberosa.
Plants are important
constituents of the biota on this planet and greatly influence the quality
of global environment. Today human survival is threatened due to the
destruction of plant diversity because we can live on this planet only as
long as there are plants. Botanic Gardens comprising arboretum, herbal
garden, conservatories, green houses, experimental/display plots, aquatic
bodies conserving incredibly diverse plant resources from various climatic
regimes offer immense opportunities to the school children, college
students, researchers as well as the general public to learn about the
nature intricately. Visits of students, researchers, progressive farmers and
the entrepreneurs are frequently organized in the botanic garden. Summer
training courses for the school children are also organized from time to
time. Thus the garden is dedicated to environmental education and the
conservation of plant diversity.
PLANTS AND SEEDS
Authentic plant material of a
wide variety of indigenous, exotic and ornamental plant species is
propagated for sale to inculcate the bio-aesthetic sense among the general
public and for making the herbarium specimens for students and research
scholars from various colleges, universities and institutions.
CONSULTANCY, LANDSCAPING AND TRAINING
Botanic Garden renders
technical advice on landscaping and ornamental horticulture, for improving
the environment, to individuals, private and public sectors and Government
Organizations. Short education-cum-training programmes are conducted on
cultivation of ornamentals, landscaping, garden layouts, bonsai and latest
techniques in horticultural practices. Such programmes are generally
sponsored by SIDBI and National Horticulture Mission for the horticulture
officers, rural unemployed youths and the progressive farmers.
The Institute organizes two
Annual Flower Shows viz: Chrysanthemum & Coleus Show in December and Rose &
Gladiolus Show during January every year. These shows are of international
standard displaying R&D work on ornamental horticulture for promoting
interest among the garden lovers, progressive farmers, connoisseurs and the
general public towards the cultivation or ornamental plants for improving
their environmental surroundings.
NBRI Botanic Garden has been
recognized as the Centre of Excellence by the Ministry of
Environment & Forests, Government of India, New Delhi. Under this programme
as well as under the CSIR's Supra Institutional project the following new
creations have been proposed.
A phytotron with various
chambers having different climatic regimes will be installed in the botanic
garden simulating photoperiod, light intensity, temperature, relative
humidity conditions for the ex-situ conservation studies on various groups
of plants with special emphasis to the RET taxa and other biologically
interesting plants The studies will also be taken-up about the effect of
increased carbon dioxide on plants in atmosphere during the next 20 -30
years. It will be examined by increasing the carbon dioxide levels under the
controlled conditions for different candidate species of plants.
*National Botanical Research Institute,
Lucknow- 226 001, India
Anil K. Goel <[email protected]>
R.K. Roy <[email protected]>
**Former Head, Botanic
Garden, National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow-226001, India