Botanical Garden for Aquatic and wetland plants

Apr 01, 2009 | Vol. 1, Issue 2

Malabar botanical Garden, near Pokkunnu in Kozhikode is the first of its kind in North Kerala and the second in the state.  The Garden is maintained by Malabar Botanical Garden Society (MBGS), an autonomous organization under Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Govt. of Kerala. Started in 1991, MBG has now become unique institution for the nation, dedicated to the conservation and research of aquatic/wetland plants.

Malabar botanical Garden, near Pokkunnu in Kozhikode is the first of its kind in North Kerala and the second in the state, the first being the Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI) at Thiruvananthapuram. The initial work for the garden started way back in 1991 and became functional from 1996 with an objective to be a centre for research on the aquatic plant diversity of the country and for conservation of the endangered plants of the erstwhile Malabar Region.  The Garden is maintained by Malabar Botanical Garden Society (MBGS), an autonomous organization under Department of Science, Technology and Environment, Govt. of Kerala. The 22 member Governing body is headed by the Chief Minister of Kerala as Chairman. Managing Director is Dr.R.Ansari

The garden is spread over an area of about 40 acres, of which 15 acres is marshy land and the remaining area is hilly terrain with gravel soil providing diverse habitat for varieties of plants. Now MBG has become unique institution for the nation dedicated to the conservation and research of aquatic/wetland plants. The garden is developed in different thematic sections.  

Water Queens

One important section is Water Queens- the germ plasm collection of water lilies (Nymphaea). Scientifically water lilies are important in the fact that they are considered to be one of the primitive groups of flowering plants that still exist in the world. A wide variety of species of water lilies with fascinating shades are collected from different parts of India and conserved here. MBGS is distributing the seedlings of water lilies and other aquatic plants to institutions and the general public for promoting aquatic horticulture.

The delicate aquatic plants which are under threat of extinction in its original habitats are cultivated here. This aquatic plant conservatory is named as Sarovar. In addition to RET species, endemic species in South India are also grown here. The delicate aquatic plants from different parts of the country are grown in special germination pots in the aquatic nursery (Aquagene) for demonstration.

Sanjeevani and Sarpagandha

This is an herbal garden and nursery spread over 15 acres on a hilly tract. More than 300 varieties of medicinal plants which are being used in the traditional Indian systems, including many endangered species are cultivated here. In the demonstrative section of Sanjeevani – potted medicinal plants are arranged in groups according to their therapeutic property. Sarpagandha is the medicinal plants nursery which produces about ten thousand seedlings of genuine plants every year for distribution to farmers.

Rheedea

This section is also based on a new theme and we can say it as a live demo of Hortus Malabaricus. Hortus Malabaricus is the first printed book on the plants of Kerala. The book was published from Amsterdam in 12 volumes in Latin during 1678-93 by Hendrick Adriaan Van Rheede, the then Dutch Governor of Cochin. He compiled the book with the help of a traditional Ayurveda Physician Itty Achuthan, who provided the local names and its medicinal uses to Van Rheede. This section of the Garden is a live demo of Hortus Malabaricus. The display labels for plants in this section depict the medicinal properties and traditional uses of those plants as it is described in the Horthus Malabaricus, making it into a heritage Garden.

Other attractions

Another interesting section in the Botanical garden is the green house. The endangered plants from Kerala included in the Red data Book of Indian Plants and those plants endemic to the erstwhile Malabar region are grown in a green house for conservation as well as for introducing them to the public. This section includes plants, orchids, creepers and seedlings of rare trees.

Star Forest is another section which is based on the mythology and may be the most interesting section for the general public. As per the Ephemeris, for each of 27 birth stars, a tree is denoted and the belief is that a person caring the respective birth tree will get prosperity. So, all the 27 trees are planted here with display boards showing their connection with the stars. According to the authorities this project has got wide acceptance as a perceiving project.  

Bodhi is another section but with similar theme as Star Forest. The plants mentioned in the epics and mythologies are grown here. The associated stories are also displayed to create the public interest. The whole idea for promoting these themes is to protect those trees.

Apart from these, there are separate sections for ornamental plants, native shade-plants, common indoor plants etc and are developed to cater the public interest. A library, Laboratory and a Botanical museum & Herbarium are also there for serving the interests of students and researchers.

Other Activities

MBGS' premiere objective is the conservation of Aquatic plants and research, conservation of endangered Malabar plants and cultivation of Herbal plants. But the Society is also giving importance to popularize the scientific aspects of these plants and the need of its conservation to the students and the public through various means viz a viz seminars, workshops, exhibitions etc. The society supplies seedlings of medicinal plants and aquatic plants and conducts cultivation programmes with the participation of farmers. So far MBGS has done a lot of research and development activities in association with other recognized agencies in the field. Some of the works are published and available for sale. MBG is a member of UK based Botanic Garden Conservation International (BGCI) and Indian Botanic Garden Network, Lucknow.

Location/Access: Situated near Pokkunnu of Olavanna village in Kozhikode district. Its about 10km from Kozhikode city, on the way to Pantheerankavu. From here it is about 30km to Calicut (Kozhikode) Airport. 

Entry details:

Timings: Between 10am to 5pm. (Sunday holiday) - Advance permission is recommended, especially for groups.

For more info/visit: Malabar Botanical Garden

Guruvayurappan College P.O, Kozhikode-673 014, Kerala, India

Ph/fax: +91-495-2430939

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