Durban Botanic Gardens
The Durban Botanic Gardens is situated in the heart of the Berea, on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal. This 15-hectare botanic garden was established in 1849 and is Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden and the City’s oldest public institution. The Durban Botanic Gardens curates major collections such as cycads, palms and orchids and, in the true tradition of botanic gardens, is really several gardens within one. The indigenous and exotic nature of the collections promotes a very rich teaching and learning garden, to better understand the world of plants, for everyone from school level to university, interested amateurs to professionals. Plants ‘weird and wonderful’, from the remarkable ones that feed us, clothe or house us to those that simply inspire us and stretch our imaginations, are all landmarks to be marvelled at in the Durban Botanic Gardens.
9A John Zikhali Road Musgrave Durban ZA 4001
Areas of Durban Botanic Gardens
Charles James Tea GardenThis is fondly referred to as the Tea Garden and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a pot of tea with a fresh cream scone. The Tea Garden serves light refreshments in a garden setting. The Tea Garden was established in 1963 by the KZN Anti-TB Association which is a registered non-profit organisation. Phone | 031 201 2766 Email | [email protected]
Orchid CollectionThe Orchid collection in the Durban Botanic Gardens is one of the few that is held by a Municipal botanic garden in South Africa. The Ernest Thorpe orchid display house was established in 1962 and receives around 16 000 visitors per month. The 6 000 orchids, including 75 genera, are grown in the nearby shade houses. These orchids are needed to constantly replenish the display house as different orchids flower at different times of the year, creating a wonderland of colour, vibrancy and perfumes all year round. The orchids are overseen by Hendrelien Peters, who has worked with orchids for over 30 years in various capacities. The collection is mainly exotic, to supply the tropical ‘wow factor’, but also includes some indigenous orchids which are being grown as part of our conservation initiative. Combined with the orchids are bromeliads and other tropical indoor plants, which add to the atmosphere and provide a constant background of foliage and colour. 09h00 - 17h00
Palm CollectionThe Durban Botanic Gardens is proud of its Palm collection, which punctuates the landscape with an array of trees. Palms hail from the tropical regions of the world, with most occurring between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. They belong to the family of Monocotyledons related to reeds and grasses. South Africa has only five different indigenous palm trees that naturally occur in our country. The oldest surviving palm in the garden was planted in 1873 behind the Tea kiosk – Hyphaene coriacea [Lalla Palm]. The other old palms make up part of the Palm Avenue found inside the fence but along Edith Benson Road. The tallest palms were planted around 1889 and the remainder over the years that followed. Edith Benson Road was constructed in 1935 and the Syagrus palms were planted along the road. Many of these were replaced in 1986 with Washingtonia robusta palms due to the high vehicle accident rate and many palms being damaged.
Cycad CollectionThese are some of the oldest living plants, dating back from the Mesozoic up to the Jurassic period, around 160 million years ago. Our indigenous cycads come from the genera Encephalartos and Stangeria, and are all protected under strict Nature Conservation laws which require permits to possess, sell, donate or move them. The collection covers cycads from South Africa, Africa, Australia, Asia and Central America. Our rarest cycad is the Encephalartos woodii which can be seen on each of the four corners of the steps leading up towards the herb garden, near Edith Benson Road. The first of this species was discovered in 1895 in the wild Ngoye forest in Zululand by the then Curator, John Medley Wood. In 1903 some of these stems were brought back to the Gardens by his assistant, James Wylie. This protected cycad species is now extinct in the wild.
Butterfly Habitat GardenThis garden was established in 2015 by Dr Americo Bonkewitzz, a butterfly specialist. This replaced the original COP-17 Beehive project. The garden was specially designed using plants that provide nectar (food) to attract many different local butterflies, to supply host plants where they can lay their eggs, and where the caterpillars that hatch can eat the correct plants in order to develop into butterflies. The information boards inside the dome show the life cycle and some of the butterfly species that occur there. Most of the plants are Indigenous with a few exceptions such as the red Pentas. Insect surveys are carried out by the Durban Natural History Museum in summer and in winter. Butterfly courses are run by Americo and details can be obtained from the Information Office or on his website.
Trees | ArboretumThe trees form the back bone and the beauty of the Gardens. Many are over 100 years old and these are named “Centenary Trees”. We have around 90 centenary trees listed, with the age of more being verified. The majority of the old trees are exotics. Many years ago, settlers were interested in growing plants from distant shores for economic purposes such as tea, coffee and rubber, as well as being influenced by the trend of the Victorian Plant Collecting frenzy at the time. The Gardens boasts a beautiful old indigenous tree: Ziziphus muconata [Buffalo Thorn / uMphafa]. This is the last remaining tree that would have been part of the original coastal forest, which occurred before emerging development of houses and roads destroyed the surrounding bush and forest. This tree, we hope, will be recognised as a Heritage Tree by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry. This can be found at the top of the Garden above the old water reservoir.
Information Office | 08h00 - 16h30 Orchid House | 09h00 - 17h00 Summer (16 Sept - 15 Apr) | 07h30 - 17h45 Winter (16 Apr - 15 Sept) | 07h30 - 17h30