Botanic Gardens Durban South Africa

Red Bishop on Lotus

Yesterday I visited Durban’s subtropical botanical garden – one of the world’s most beautiful for the eyes and nose! A guide, Krishna, educated me about the trees, plants, and birds. Many of the “proper” names are long, so I took photos and most are uncaptioned. The exquisite plants take your breath away and divine fragrances fill the air – orchid, lemongrass, jasmine….

Rare Cycad Palm

Australian Palm


Durban Botanic Gardens maintains indigenous plant collections from the subtropics, characterized by majestic trees.”


Orchid – guentermanaus Shutterstock
Rare Cycads

Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden and Durban’s oldest public institution, the Durban Botanic Gardens cover 30 lush acres. The Gardens are famous for a collection of rare South African Cycads. Cycads are some of the “oldest living plants, dating back from the Mesozoic Era up to the Jurassic Period, around 160 million years ago”. South Africa’s indigenous cycads come from the genera Encephalartos and Stangeria. They’re “protected under Nature Conservation laws which require permits to possess, sell, donate, or move them”. Protected cycad species are now extinct in the wild.

Duck Family
Vervet Monkeys
Tree Frog on New Guinea Kamerere (Eucalyptus)
Bird in Lotus Leaves
History and Background

British Colonists developed the Gardens in 1849. They became a “botanic station for agricultural crops”. Today, they’re part of an international botanic garden network focusing on “biodiversity, education, heritage, research, horticultural, and green innovation“. One network focus is threatened plant conservation, including cycads and palms.

Ibis aka Hadeda
Branches New Guinea Kamerere


The Gardens are home to the “original specimen of a Cycad widely acknowledged as the rarest plant in the world”.


Highlights and Collections

The main plant collections are orchids, bromeliads, cycads, and palms. The orchid collection is displayed in the Ernest Thorpe orchid display house. It contains 6,000 orchids replenished with varieties that flower at different times of the year, “creating a constant wonderland of color, vibrancy, and perfumes”.

Yellow Orchids
In the Trees
Bark New Guinea Kamerere
Egyptian Goose
Yes, they’re really Blue!
More Orchids
Monkey on a Bench
Little Bird

The list of collections at Durban Botanic Gardens includes:


On the way home I discovered Château Gâteaux, a South African pâtisserie with great espresso and outrageously tempting sweets. The fudge-picasso white chocolate mousse is ;o)!

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