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Giardino dei Semplici

 

The botanical garden in Florence was founded in 1545 and covers an area of about two and a half acres with trees of great height and wild growing plants in the beds of the garden. The 'giardino dei semplici' derives its name from the medical plants found there.

In the 1800's it was a meeting place for the citizens of Florence; the first custodian, or 'semplicista' was Luca Ghini, and after him Cesalpino, Micheli, while the cardinal Gian Carlo de' Medici held evening parties there.

In 1753 the Accademia dei Georgofili took over its upkeep and redid it with somewhat unappealing tall trees, designed by Ottaviano Targioni Tozzetti.

The wild growing plants are cultivated mainly in pots, in the greenhouse or outside; the 'hot' greenhouses are graced with autonomous and controlled heat, and in some of them a special instrument to regulate the greenhouse has been put into place: with this machine made of a series of air conditioned rooms, climates and meteorological situations can be reproduced for observation and botanical experimentation.

The collections grow every year with new species and the exemplary old ones are renewed; the missions organized the places of origin, in Italy and abroad, are one of the principle activities for the researchers and technicians that work in the Garden. Often the plants' seeds are also requested at the other Botanical Gardens, so that research can be done on the spot.

Every plant has been inserted in a numbered list with its own scientific name of the species, the appropriate taxonomy (order, family, genus), the geographical distribution, where it comes from, the distributor, or, in the case that it is taken directly from nature, the place it was found and the name of the person that found it.

The catalogue is computerized for a simpler and faster way of doing research. Apart from the conservation that can take on particular importance for plants that are becoming extinct, the principle desire of the Botanical Garden is its didactic-educative function that is revealed to university students and extended to high schools and junior high schools to help protect the environment.

With the destruction of certain habitats and climactic changes due to pollution, more than one-fourth of all plant species on the planet could disappear. The Botanical Gardens and the Arboretums are some of the best ways to save the plants; today more than one-third of all the know species are cultivated within these structures, a true living museums.

For any information:

Giardino dei Semplici
Via P.A. Micheli 3 (055 2757402).
Open 9am-noon Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat.
Admission: free.

 


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