About the Botanical Garden
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).

General features

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.

Educational programme

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 issues.

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")

Scientific programme

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 taxonomic help.

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 Wlodzimierz Seneta.

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): 40-44
  • 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.

    Forest edges

    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.

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