Botanic Garden

Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanic Garden (XTBG), under the administration of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' is located in Menglun Town of Mengla County, Yunnan Province and lies 21°41' North latitude, and 101°25' East longitude, with an elevation of 570 m, annual average temperature 21.7°C, and rainfall of 1500 mm. Surrounded by Luosuo River, a branch of Mekong River, the garden looks like a gourdshaped land area with a clear natural boundary extending to the east, covering an area of 900 ha. Xishuangbanna, where the garden is located is a Dai Autonomous Prefecture inhabited by more than ten minority nationalities that interact and influence the tropical rainforest ecosystems. Therefore, this region has favourable natural and social conditions for carrying out scientific research on the exploitation, utilization and conservation of tropical plant resources.

XTBG was established in 1959 under the leadership of Professor Cai Xitao, a famous botanist. In the past 39 years, XTBG has emphasized the exploitation, utilization and conservation of tropical plant resources, and carried out research on plant diversity conservation, ethnobotany, agroforestry, economic plant development etc. The garden includes different landscapes, such as some natural vegetation types, rainforest, tropical monsoon forest and south subtropical evergreen broad-leafed forest. Through almost 40 years, more than 3000 plant species have been collected and cultivated in about 20 living plant collections (plots), such as Palm Garden, Bamboo Garden, Shade Plants, Orchid Garden, Ethnobotanical and Cultural Garden, Arboretum and ex situ Conservation Collection of Rare and Endangered Plant species.

The Palm Garden is regarded as “the exhibition centre” of the botanic garden, 150 species of palms both local and exotic are cultivated in the 5 ha area.

The Bamboo Garden has an area of 6 ha and 136 species, subspecies and varieties of bamboos are planted in this garden. It is a base for collecting, conserving and studying the bamboo resources.

The Shade Plants and Orchid Garden is an one ha area with more than 400 species and varieties of tropical orchids and shade plants like ferns, gingers and aroids.

The Arboretum has an area of 10 ha and about 1200 species of woody plants introduced from China and abroad are planted. Besides, 23 species and varieties of rattans are also cultivated in this collection, using teak and others for support.

The Ex Situ Conservation Collection for Rare and Endangered Plants is part of the tropical rainforest. In the 90 ha area, there are about 2000 species and subspecies of tropical plants, 60 of them nationally protected species.

XTBG was affiliated to the Kunming Institute of Botany, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KIB-CAS). In 1996, the CAS decided that XTBG be separated from KIB, and it became an independent research institute, aimed at strengthening the research capability for biological resources, prospecting and biodiversity conservation in the southwest China. The Kunming Institute of Ecology (KIE-CAS) merged into this newly-established botanic garden. After the reorganization of the botanic garden, the research capability has been greatly enhanced.

At present, the garden has 207 well-trained scientists, among them, 50 hold the title of senior scientist. The training background of the scientists has also been diversified. This is advantageous to the multidisciplinary interactions among scientists. The experimental conditions have been improved, thus favouring the integration of field observations and laboratory work. For this reason, under the approval of CAS, XTBG has revised its research tasks with emphasis on Yunnan Province, southwest China and Southeast Asia, and biological communities, species, carrying out research on biodiversity conservation and sustainable utilization, so as to make new contributions to the sustainable development of various useful plants.

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