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article imageRio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens: A Brazilian national treasure Special

By Igor I. Solar     Mar 1, 2011 in Travel
Rio De Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens, one of the greatest tropical botanical gardens in the world, houses some of the rarest species of plants from the flora of Brazil and other countries, and many species of tropical birds, fish and mammals.
The garden is located at the foot of Corcovado Mountain and occupies about 142 hectares. It is part of the Tijuca National Park (Floresta da Tijuca), home to hundreds of species of plants and wildlife endemic of the Atlantic Rainforest.
The garden was founded on 1808 by Dom João, at the time Prince Regent of the United Kingdom of Brazil and Portugal, later known (1816-1822) as John VI, King of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves.
Barbosa Rodrigues’ Alley. The most important alley of the Botanical Garden is about 700 meters lon...
Barbosa Rodrigues’ Alley. The most important alley of the Botanical Garden is about 700 meters long and has 137 royal palms. All these palms are descendants of a single tree, the Palma Mater. The mother tree died in 1972 when it was struck by lighting.
Friar Leandro’s Lake was developed in 1824 as an important part of the landscaping of the botanica...
Friar Leandro’s Lake was developed in 1824 as an important part of the landscaping of the botanical garden. It is also known as Lake Victoria Regia for sheltering large number of such plants (Victoria amazonica). It also has water lilies (Nynphaea sp.) and lotus (Nelumbo nucifera).
Dom João had arrived in Brazil after leaving Portugal on November of 1807 when the Napoleonic forces invaded his country. Before he could be deposed by the invading French army and to avoid becoming a prisoner of Napoleon, the Prince Regent ordered the transfer of the Portuguese royal court to Brazil. The Royal family left Lisbon under the protection of the British Royal Navy to establish a government in exile based at Rio de Janeiro.
At the beginning the grounds were Dom João’s private gardens where he intended to acclimatize spices such as cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg that were brought from the East Indies. Initially known as the Royal Orchard, when Dom Joao returned to Portugal in 1822 the garden was open to the public and renamed as the Royal Botanical Garden. In 1890, at the time Brazil became a Republic, the “Royal” part of the garden’s name was dropped.
This pergola on a gentle hill holds the bronze bust of Friar Leandro  first director of the Botanica...
This pergola on a gentle hill holds the bronze bust of Friar Leandro, first director of the Botanical Garden in the period 1824 to 1829.
Combretum reticulatum. Plant from Africa.
Combretum reticulatum. Plant from Africa.
In 1992 the Floresta da Tijuca, as a conservation unit of the larger Mata Atlántica system (Atlantic Forest) was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The garden is protected by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute of Brazil (IPHAN). In 1996 the Garden became the Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro Research Institute. Since then, its mission has focused on conservation and scientific research of Brazilian plant biodiversity, while remaining a showpiece for environmental education, helping the local community and foreign visitors to become aware of the beauty and fragility of the environment, to broaden knowledge and to promote individual and collective interest in caring for environmental problems and habitat preservation.
Heliconia latispatha (lobsterclaw)  at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden.
Heliconia latispatha (lobsterclaw), at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden.
Etlingera elatior  also known as Torch Ginger  Red Ginger Lily   Philippine Wax Flower or Rose de Po...
Etlingera elatior, also known as Torch Ginger, Red Ginger Lily, Philippine Wax Flower or Rose de Porcelaine. Introduced in the garden from Indonesia.
Currently the Botanic Garden comprises about 83 hectares of tropical forest and 54 hectares of cultivated gardens including paths, lagoons, fountains, sculptures, conservatories and several historic buildings. The gardens contain about 6500 species of plants including indigenous resources of the Brazilian Atlantic floristic region and exotic vegetation introduced from other tropical regions. Many of the species are in open gardens; however, a large number of plants are housed in greenhouses especially dedicated to plant groups such as bromeliads, orchids, cacti and succulent and carnivorous plants.
The beautiful cast-iron fountain was made in England. It was installed at the Rio de Janeiro garden ...
The beautiful cast-iron fountain was made in England. It was installed at the Rio de Janeiro garden in 1905. The 4 muse figures represent music, art, poetry and science.
The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) native to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia. The very la...
The jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) native to parts of Southern and Southeast Asia. The very large fruits may weigh up to 36 kilos.
Among the gardens’ best known features are the Fountain of the Muses, Friar Leandro’s Lake, Monkey’s River, Barbosa Rodrigues’Alley and its 137 Royal Palms, and the Japanese Garden.
The Japanese Garden was established in 1935 and reopened in 1995 by Princess Sayako  daughter of Emp...
The Japanese Garden was established in 1935 and reopened in 1995 by Princess Sayako, daughter of Emperor Akihito of Japan.
The orchid conservatory at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden.
The orchid conservatory at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden.
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival, lasting 4 days, draws many visitors to the beautiful city on the shore of the Guanabara Bay. The fantastic beaches, the Sugarloaf Mountain, the large statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Botanical Gardens, among other attractions, marvel visitors all year long.
The Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden is in the south side of the city, easily accessible by public transportation from Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.
Orchids at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical gardens.
Orchids at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical gardens.
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