Durban Botanic Gardens

Botanical Gardens

A Short History Lesson

The Durban Botanic Gardens (DBG) traces its origins to colonial times, when it was founded in 1849 for the introduction and trial of potentially useful commercial crops.

The gardens later developed collections of sub-tropical trees, palms and orchids. The Durban Botanic Gardens remain a classic, reflecting the universality of the plant kingdom. It has, for over 100 years, had a fine mixed arboretum of African, Asian and American trees. The Gardens are a few minutes walk from the bustling Warwick Triangle, site of one of the largest retail medicinal plant markets in the country. The Gardens host approximately 500 000 visitors per year, many of whom are foreign tourists.

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A collection of Natural Beauty

Orchids, Palms and Cycads are the main collections of the Gardens, and the focus of present and forthcoming collection efforts. It is the garden’s intention to maintain the cosmopolitan flavor of the cycad collection, which is currently ranked among the top ten botanical garden cycad collections in the world.

Palm and orchid collections will increasingly focus on documented accessions of African species. World-wide, botanic gardens are changing, as threats to plants and ecosystems have become graver. Ironically, this makes it an exciting time for botanic gardens, as their multiple possible roles in conservation and education are recognized by governments and international agencies.

Botanical Gardens The Orchid collection began in 1931. Mr. Ernest Thorp started the collection while he was a student. It consisted of two dozen orchids imported from India. In 1945 this collection was bequeathed to Ernest Thorp. During the 1950's and 60's there was an orchid explosion in the USA due to the advent of tissue culture. A few local orchid collectors got together and each purchased a particular orchid hybrid for mutual exchange amongst themselves. Thus by 1960 the Durban Botanic Gardens collection was substantial and in 1962 the Ernest Thorp Orchid House was opened.

The best flowering times for orchids are spring and autumn..... Bromeliads are used to augment the absence of orchids during the non-flowering times.There is a separate Species Orchid House for species orchids, which have smaller blooms but have the perfume that the other hybridized orchids lack

The bromeliads in the Durban Botanic Gardens are one of the main collections of the Gardens. Durban having a hot humid climate is ideal for a number of these plants. "Bromeliads" is simply a shortening of the scientific name Bromeliaceae, the Pineapple family.

It is not possible to say who first coined the word "Bromeliad" but it was probably some fairly recent botanist or horticulturist who was tired of having to use the phrase "species of Bromeliaceae". It was Linnaeus who established the genus Bromelia in 1754. The name was taken from the family name of Olof Bromelius, a Swedish botanist. Bromeliads previously went by the Indian name of Karatas. These plants are pronounced sun lovers, are drought- resistant and are for the most part terrestrials.

Palms are a fascinating group of plants, related to grasses but with complex reproductive strategies. They have an ancient lineage: the first palm fossil (leaves of Sabal species) dates back to the upper Cretaceous Period, 84 million years ago. Palms have a wide distribution and are found in tropical and subtropical regions, and also occur in desert areas where permanent ground water is available. Only a very small number of palms grow in temperate countries.

At the Durban Botanic Gardens, we have an extensive palm collection of more than 130 species from 58 genera. The beautiful Palm Walk was established in 1889 and today contains a majestic stand of palms lining the avenue. The Palmetum partly surrounds the lake in the grounds and was created in 1977. The collection has a diverse group of palms, ranging from the Giant Fishtail Palm of Borneo which grows to over 25m in height, to the small Chamaedorea palms which grow in the under story of rain forests.

At the Durban Botanic Gardens, they are in the process of creating a seed bank of all of our palm species. The primary aim is to ensure that the gene pool of each species is as genetically diverse as possible. This could, in future, supplement endangered wild population and be of use in re-introduction programmes.

The Visitors Complex

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Your Ad Here The Visitors complex consists of a Gift shop, Information Office, Administration offices, the NBS Education Centre and a boardroom, surrounded by an indigenous garden. There are also ramps and ablution facilities to accommodate the disabled.

The Shop

Durban Botanic Gardens Shop, situated at the east end of the Gardens, offers a wide variety of gifts, both for overseas and local visitors. Zulu baskets, beadwork and specialist books on South African flora and fauna are our speciality.

The Boardroom


The boardroom can accommodate 15 people and has access to all the equipment ... More

The Hall

This versatile venue is suitable for conferences, product launches, workshops, exhibitions and weddings.

The ball is 18m x 13.2m and can accommodate 250 delegates cinema style or 140 guests seated at tables.

Other features include:

• Kitchen facilities for out side caterers
• Bar and serving hatch
• Air-conditioning
• Black-out blinds
• Break-away into the Gardens and verandas

Conference audio-visual equipment supplied:

• Flipcharts
• White boards
• Fitted screen
• Overhead projector
• Carousel slide projector
• Lapel microphone
• Lectern and handheld roaming microphone
• Electrical points for laptop computers, pc's and televisions

There is also a digital projector for hire.

For Visitors Complex Info & For Bookings Contact:
Ntu Vilakazi
031 309 1170 / Fax 031 309 1271

Attractions at Durban Botanical Gardens

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Birds at the Durban Botanic Gardens

The Durban Botanic Gardens has a lot of birdlife, especially water birds which can be seen around the lake area. Regular bird counts are held at the Gardens. For a full list of the birds seen at the Durban Botanic Gardens, click here… (MS Excel Spreadsheet)

The Lake area

Enjoy your function under the umbrella of majestic, grand old trees surrounding the Lake. the scenic Lake Area can accommodateup to 1000 people in a marquee on the lawn. this area is available for larger functions and cocktail parties. Three-phased electricity and water are available in this area.

Garden of the Senses

A unique setting, the Garden of the Senses won the award for the best garden of the year award for 2003 from the South African Landscape Institute. The area has access to electricity and is beautifully paved, making it an ideal venu for more formal functions.

Sunken Garden

This beautiful floral structured garden is well worth a visit.

Do not forget our popular PICNIC SITES throughout the Gardens which accommodate small groups of people.

The Fern Dell

The Fern Dell has been upgraded and has a veiwing deck and "next door" is another veiwing deck at the original resivoir site, allowing magnificent vistas over the Gardens.

Open daily

• 07h30 - 17h15 (Winter)
• 07h30 - 17h45 (Summer)

The Durban Botanic Gardens Tea Garden

This is a restful oasis, where family and friends can rejuvenate and soak up the beauty that surrounds them, while sipping a cuppa and tasting the delicious eats that the Tea Garden has to offer. Be sure to try out their Famous “Crumpets and Scones with the WORKS”.

Durban Day celebration/Other Concerts.

Don’t forget the Durban Day celebrations which normally happen around about September. This is normally quite a jol featuring local bands and singers. What is really unique about Durban Day is it take place in the garden and people can bring there picnic stuff and really relax and enjoy all the festivity while celebrating there city. Not only is the garden used for Durban Day but it is also used for a lot of other concerts through out the year.

Durban Days photos What to bring to concerts in the garden:

Your tickets (if you purchased online - this will be a printed ticket)
A blanket or chairs to sit on
A picnic basket of goodies to eat or drink or buy at the venue
Sunscreen
A jacket - the concert runs into the late afternoon
Your camera



What not to bring:

Umbrellas
Weapons
Pets
Illegal Substances
Bats and Balls
Tricycles / push bikes / scooters / bicycles

The Gardens Opening Times :

Mondays : 10:00 – 16:00
Tuesday – Sunday : 9:00 – 16:00

For further information contact: 031 2012766

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