History of the garden
The first botanical garden in Warsaw was set up in 1811 in the vicinity of the university in
the Old Town. As this place turned out to be unsuitable, it was moved in 1818 to the so called
Royal Garden where it occupied a space of 22.5 ha. It was officially opened in 1825. The
garden developed very rapidly, in 1824 it already had 10000 species. In 1834 a decline started
when the Russian administration took two thirds of its space as one of the post-upheaval
repressions. The garden had its revival in the years between two world wars, when Poland
regained its independence. This institution experienced many losses during World War II
(1939-45) and as a result all the buildings (greenhouses and observatory) as well as a
major part of the collection were destroyed.
However due to the devotion of its prewar director Boleslaw
Hryniewiecki the garden was restored.
Many innovations were made under the present director Hanna Werblan-Jakubiec
(since 1987): renovations of buildings were made, paths were covered with gravel and some
collections were greatly enriched or new collections were added (Polish woody cultivars,
ecological groups, alpinarium, flower carpet).
The garden is located in central Poland, in the North-European Lowland. Its climate is
milder than in other parts of central Poland due to its location in the heart of a large city. The
mean temperature in July is 19 C and in January 13 C.
The present area of the garden is 5 ha, within this the park constitutes 4 ha and 1500 m2
is occupied by the greenhouses. The garden is open to the public from April until October.
The garden is placed on the high terrace of the Vistula river, so in spite of its lowland
location it has a very interesting relief. The area of the garden may be divided into two parts:
the western which is flat and divided into regular quarters for single species or ornamental
flowerbeds with single trees, and the eastern - which has the character of a landscape park with denser
tree cover and more irregular arrangement of herbaceous plants and shrubs.
The woody species collection contains about 1500 species. The oldest specimens, dating
back to the beginning of the 19th century, are Sophora japonica, Acer campestre, Pinus nigra,
Carpinus betulus, Fagus sylvatica in the cultivars: Miltoniensis and Atropunicea and female
Gingko biloba. Large specimens of Larix sibirica, Cornus mas, Juniperus virginiana and
Paulownia tomentosa are also worth mentioning. The pride of the garden is Metasequoia
glyptostroboides obtained from the seeds collected soon after its discovery in the forties.
The extreme western part of the garden is occupied by the systematics collection
arranged into regular rectangles of one species each. It is arranged in a taxonomic order
according to the Englers system. Smaller collections in this part of the garden include
collections of useful, medicinal and climbing plants, as well as collections of plants from various
habitats of Poland: inland dune, seashore dune, steppe, saltmarsh, high mountains, marsh, peatbog
and water. The central part of the garden is occupied by an alley of Syringa vulgaris,
fountain, rosarium and aceretum. Further north there are collections of ornamental flowers and
plant biology. Here is also the collection of lowland Polish flora with the most interesting
native species, many of them are rare or endangered. All the protected species in all collections
are labelled in red.
The greenhouses contain a general overview of the main taxonomic and ecological
groups of the world, including palms, figs, cycads, cacti, epiphytes, etc. The greenhouses are
available for guided tours only. One of the greenhouses containing mainly the tropical crops and
fruits will be soon opened to the general public.
The great achievement of the garden is its efficient database of all garden plants,
recently transferred also to the Internet. The database was written especially for the gardens
purposes and is also in use by some other Polish gardens.
Due to its strong link with the university and the city, the Botanic Garden of Warsaw
University is oriented to all kinds of education. The staff hold lectures, practics and tours not
only for university students but also for teenagers, school children, gifted children, handicapped
people, etc. There is also a consultation point where anybody can get advice on gardening
There have been two artistic contests organized by the garden in the last two years (a
drawing competition for children "My favourite plant" and photographic competition "A woman
in the Garden")
The garden is a member of the Botany Institute of Warsaw University and most of its
departments are placed within its territory. Because of its small area no large scale planting
experiments are carried out in the garden and there are no vast specialized taxonomic
collections. The garden specimens are used only for ad hoc comparative studies or as a
For the last few years the scientific staff (four scientists and a few technical workers)
have been taking part in a project on the mapping of north-east Poland flora, concentrating
especially on endangered plants from the Wigry National Park. Individual scientific projects in
the Garden concern the synanthropic flora of abandoned villages in the Kampinos National
Park, mycoflora of the Botanic Garden and plant and fungi composition in the forest-grassland
borders of Carpathian foothills.
An interesting new initiative is a collection of old dying out or unknown woody cultivars
created in Poland.
Polish woody cultivars
The collection of native woody cultivars was created to rescue old dying-out cultivars
and to create a place where all of them can be seen in one place. A number of excursions to old
parks in all parts of Poland has been made in search of forgotten and rare tree cultivars. This
project was carried out in cooperation with the senior of Polish dendrology, Professor
Examples of publications
Batko A. & Jakubiec H. (1989): Gonium dispersum, a new species from Poland. Algological
Studies 54: 39-47
Werblan-Jakubiec H., Bielska T., Kirpluk I. & Walczak M. (1992). The census of rare and
protected plant species in NE Poland (in Polish). Prace OB. PAN, 2: 55-81.
Kirpluk I. (1996): Ambrosia psilostachya (Asteraceae). A new species for the flora of Wigry
National Park. (in Polish). Fragm. Flor. Et Geobot., Seria Polonica. 3
Werblan-Jakubiec H. & Luczaj L.(1996): Plants instead of roof (in Polish). Kwietnik 11(23):
Luczaj L. & Sadowska B. (1997): Vascular plant, bryophytes and fungi species richness of
deciduous forest, seminatural grassland and their edge in SE Poland. Folia Geobotanica et
Phytotaxonomica, in press.
One of the individual research projects carried out in the Garden between 1994 and
1997 were forest-grassland edges in landscape mosaic. The study encompassed three
Carpathian deciduous woodlands surrounded by hay-meadows. The distrubution of vascular
plants, mosses, cap fungi and ground fauna was studied with the help of several transects. The
study showed that the responses to the edge proximity differed between groups of organisms.
Shrub, tree and moss species richness showed positive edge effects, whereas vascular plant,
fungi and animal species richness did not show significant edge effects.