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African Botanic Gardens Network Bulletin 11

EDITION No. 11 July 2006


Botanic gardens take lead in climate change talks - Suzanne Sharrock

News from the Durban Botanic Gardens - Chris Dalzell

News from South Africa’s National Botanical Gardens - Chris Willis

Launch of Tree Planting Campaign in Wakiso District - David Nkwanga

Stemming the menace of Alien Plant Invasion - Adeniyi Jayeola

Establishment of Medicinal Plant Gardens - George Owusu-Afriyie

Tit Bits from Aburi Botanic Gardens - George Owusu-Afriyie

First botanic garden conference in Egypt - Dr Sayed Khalifa

Medicinal plant conservation in Sinai - Prof Mohamed El-Demerdash

Dear Members

Welcome to the 11th edition of our Bulletin. To those of you who contributed we say many thanks.

Botanic gardens take lead in climate change talks

Suzanne Sharrock, BGCI, UK

The world’s climate is presently changing more rapidly than at any time in human history. Such climatic changes are intimately connected with plants, which harness the energy of the sun through photosynthesis and maintain ecosystems for all life on earth. According to recent estimates, more than 100,000 plant species are currently threatened with extinction. However, the rate of extinction is expected to increase further as global temperatures continue to rise, and as many as half of the estimated 400,000 plant species in existence today may be under threat.

Recognising the urgent need for action, BGCI, together with the Jardin Botanico Canario Veira y Clavijo, convened a meeting of the Gran Canaria Group* in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain on the 10-11th of April 2006. As a result of the meeting the Group formulated “The Gran Canaria Declaration on Climate Change and Plant Conservation”.

The Declaration strongly recommends the preparation of an action plan correlative to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation on climate change and plants and calls upon governments to take urgent action to increase protection for the world’s plants.

While recognizing that the need for protection of the world’s plant diversity in the wild, the Group also agreed that ex situ collections have a key role to play in securing the conservation of wild plant species as an insurance policy for the future and as support for the adaptation of livelihoods to climate change. Furthermore, the Group considered that with over 200 million visitors annually worldwide, botanic gardens have the capacity to play a leading role in heightening public awareness of climate change and plant conservation.

For copies of the Gran Canaria Declaration, contact BGCI or visit

* The Gran Canaria Group is an ad hoc group drawn from major national and international organisations, institutions and other bodies involved in biodiversity conservation. The first meeting of a Gran Canaria Group was held in April 2000, a meeting which led ultimately to the development and adoption of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

News from Durban Botanic Gardens

By Chris Dalzell, Curator, Durban Botanic Gardens, South Africa

The new Fern Dell is now complete and looking wonderful, with a wooden deck to view the ferns. The area includes new paving and irrigation as well as signage and interpretation sponsored by SAPPI.

The golf cart sponsored by Rotary was delivered to the Gardens – it is battery operated and used for assisting the Gardens with its numerous Events and also the general running of the Gardens.

New directional signs have been installed and sponsored by SAPPI. My thanks to SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) for allowing us to use their specifications for the construction of the signs.

Mr Price is the new sponsor for the Music at the Lake Concert series which is run throughout the year.

Alien Alley which displays alien plants found in South Africa has been completed. Thanks to the Botanical Society of South Africa Coastal Branch for financial assistance.

Preliminary plans for the Garden Window Project is nearing completion. Land to the east of the Gardens has been purchased for the development of this project which includes display and education gardens to depict medicinal plants, agriculture and urban greening.

The wire animal display in the orchid house, sponsored by Ola Ice Cream was a great success, with many children visiting the display this past year.

Permaculture Courses continued in 2006 with 120 new students attending the course.

The new guides course is being run at the Gardens for 6 months, and is sponsored by the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust.

The School of Horticulture has been established at the Gardens in association with the Institute of Technology. Students who have completed their theory will do a 6 month course on practical horticulture at the Durban Botanic Gardens.

Joannes Boco Barng’etuny Samikwo from the Brackenhurst Botanical Garden in Limuru, Kenya, will spend 3 weeks training at the Durban Botanic Gardens on medicinal plants and general horticultural techniques sponsored by the African Botanic Gardens Network, Christopher Davidson and Sharon Christophr. This is the first such training to take place through the African Botanic Gardens Network.

I will be presenting a Funding Proposal to the AZH at their annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA in September.

News from South Africa’s National Botanical Gardens: December 2005 to June 2006

by Christopher Willis, SANBI, South Africa

SANBI Biodiversity Series
The first number in the new SANBI Biodiversity Series reporting on South Africa’s response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation was published in March 2006. This publication is available to download in .pdf format from SANBI’s web site To view .pdf files of the publication and South Africa’s progress in implementing the 16 targets of the GSPC, go to the following address:

Visitors and income
Visitor numbers for the 2005/6 financial year reached 1,250,748, the highest combined visitor number ever received by SANBI’s eight national botanical gardens. This represents an overall 3% increase on the visitor numbers from 2004/5. Significant increases in annual visitor numbers occurred in the Free State NBG (46,846 total visitors; 78% increase), Pretoria NBG (87,990; 29% increase) and the Walter Sisulu NBG (184,437; 7.4% increase). Visitor numbers in Kirstenbosch (750,498), Free State, Karoo Desert, Pretoria and Walter Sisulu for the 2005/6 financial year were the highest annual visitor numbers received in the history of these five Gardens.

Visitor numbers for the eight national botanical gardens in the 2005 calendar year totalled 1,241,615, a 4.5% increase on the 2004 visitor number of 1,187,662. Visitor numbers for the 2005 calendar year (excluding concerts) in Kirstenbosch NBG (648,579) were 6.7% above the 2004 visitor numbers (607,935). Total visitor number at Kirstenbosch NBG, including concerts, for the 2005 calendar year was 741,555.

Income generated by SANBI’s eight national botanical gardens reached R23,266,762 in the 2005/6 financial year, a 32% increase in the income generated (R17,619,357) by the same Gardens in 2004/5. Of this total earned income Kirstenbosch NBG generated R18,902,625, representing 81% of the Gardens Directorate’s annual income. Whilst Kirstenbosch generated more income than expenditure (operating and personnel costs), on average the eight gardens in South Africa are 45% externally funded by South Africa’s National Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Concerts, conferences, exhibitions and events
Special concerts held at Kirstenbosch included Bryan Adams (attended by 16,000 people over three consecutive nights) and Johnny Clegg.

The annual Kirstenbosch Plant Fair was held in Cape Town in March 2006. The Karoo Desert NBG also participated in the annual Plant Fair.

SANBI’s Chief Director: Gardens attended, on behalf of the African Botanic Gardens Network, an international botanical gardens conference held in Cairo, Egypt, from 10-12 May 2006. Sponsorships for attendance were received from SANBI, the ABGN and the conference hosts.

A Winter Wonders Programme was run in Kirstenbosch NBG during the winter months. Visitors to Kirstenbosch NBG in June (34,740) exceeded 30,000 for the first time in the Garden’s history.

A new sponsored wetland boardwalk was officially opened in the Harold Porter NBG, Betty’s Bay, in March 2006.

Construction of a new Sappi-sponsored elevated boardwalk was completed in the Lowveld NBG and officially opened on 20 April 2006.

Shaun Kwayimani (Karoo Desert NBG) and Bernard Brown (Kirstenbosch NBG), horticulturists within SANBI, both attended SANBI’s exhibition at the annual Chelsea Flower Show in London, UK. SANBI’s exhibition, designed by David Davidson, received its 28th Gold Medal from 31 consecutive appearances made at this Show since 1976.

A Celebration of Lights festival was hosted in the Natal NBG, Pietermaritzburg. Other events hosted in the Garden included a Teddy Bears Picnic and the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

Staff and skills development
Various accredited training courses for national botanical garden staff were held during the period under review. These included courses on celebrating diversity, supervisory management, botanical garden maintenance, estate workers/erosion control, diversity management, commercial plant production, horticultural equipment, landscape construction, landscape maintenance, irrigation installation, machine operations, tree workers, rope access skills, basic painting and plumbing skills, grass identification, first aid and commercial nursery operations.

Tourism infrastructure
Progress was made with the Expanded Public Works Programme-funded tourism infrastructure projects in Walter Sisulu NBG, Harold Porter NBG, Karoo Desert NBG, Natal NBG and Grahamstown BG. These projects have to date provided temporary jobs for over 295 people with 21,000 person days having been worked.

New Marketing Director for SANBI
SANBI recently appointed a new Marketing Director for the organization, Mrs Tsotso Sehoole, who started with SANBI at the beginning of July 2006 in Pretoria. We wish Tsotso many happy and productive years working with SANBI.

Fire on Kirstenbosch estate
A veld fire occurred on the mountain slopes above Kirstenbosch on 23 February 2006. 40 ha of natural fynbos burned, including an area that had last been burnt in 1973. The fire was brought under control by four helicopters and a large number of fire fighters (ca 60) including a well-organised volunteer team. The helicopters used a total of 861,000l (287 x 3,000l bucket loads) of water from the gardens irrigation dam. This is less than one night’s consumption by the gardens automated irrigation system.

Summer rains
Above-average rainfall fell during January and February 2006 in all the northern gardens. Between January and March 2006 the following rainfall figures were recorded: Free State NBG: 490 mm (the dam in the Garden is now full, having been dry for the past three years); Natal NBG: 446 mm; Lowveld NBG: 706 mm; Pretoria NBG: 666 mm (total rainfall received in Pretoria NBG for the 2005 calendar year was 420 mm); Walter Sisulu NBG: 452 mm.

New and expanded national botanical gardens
SANBI is currently investigating possibilities of establishing new national botanical gardens in the four provinces of South Africa that currently don’t have national botanical gardens (namely the Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West Province). Other initiatives include the possible expansion of the Harold Porter NBG and Walter Sisulu NBG to incorporate areas of adjacent rare, endemic and natural vegetation.

New publications
The second edition of the Grow Succulents guide in the Kirstenbosch Gardening Series was published in late 2005. Grow Succulents, written by Ian Oliver, Curator of SANBI’s Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, is a guide to the species, cultivation and propagation of South African succulents. See SANBI’s web site for further details.

A new number in the Kirstenbosch Gardening Series entitled Grow Fynbos Plants (written by Neville Brown and Graham Duncan) was published in 2006 by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). This guide provides a practical guide to the propagation and cultivation of plants from some of the major families of the Cape Floristic Region in South Africa.

SABONET recently published the 41st and 42nd numbers in the SABONET Report Series – a checklist of South African plants (No. 41) and a checklist of the flowering plants of sub-Saharan Africa (No. 42). Together, these two publications comprise over 2,000 pages.

A total of 19,581 indigenous plant species (infraspecific taxa excluded) have been recorded for South Africa, comprising 2,267 genera and 349 families of vascular plants. This makes the South African flora the richest temperate flora in the world. 11,700 (60%) of the species are considered endemic to South Africa, with most of them (ca 6,200) occurring in the Cape Floristic Region (CFR). 863 introduced alien plant species have been naturalized in South Africa. Many of them are invasive and threaten the natural flora and vegetation of South Africa. The angiosperms of sub-Saharan Africa comprise 50,136 current taxa in 274 plant families and 3,802 genera. These two publications provide a significant contribution towards the implementation of Target 1 of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation in sub-Saharan Africa.

In total the SABONET Report Series, published in 43 volumes between 1997 and 2006, comprises over 7,600 pages, making a significant contribution to the botanical documentation of southern and tropical Africa. Whilst many books in this series are out of print, most of the 43 books published in the series can be ordered in PDF format on CD. Contact

The need for African Botanic Gardens to establish medicinal plant gardens in their gardens

By George Owusu-Afriyie, Aburi Botanic Gardens, Ghana email:

For thousands of years plants ( herbs, roots, barks, seeds, flowers, berries and leaves) have been used by MAN to correct the spiritual and physical conditions of their people. MAN taught their people how to use plants for food, healing and spiritual purposes. No wonder I share the views of those who describe PLANTS AS NATURE’S PRICELESS GIFT TO MAN.

Nature supplies most of our foods from the plant kingdom ( vegetables, fruits, herbs ) for our well being and remedies for most illness. In the animal kingdom, every animal has an inborn instinct to look for certain herbs to eat when sick. Even the carnivorous animals eat grasses or weeds when sick.

We are told modern medicine is founded upon plants and herbalists now confirm that all chemical elements of which our body is composed are also found in the roots , barks, leaves, flowers and fruits of herbs. We are also told that each family of plants has its own ability of extracting specific group of mineral elements from the earth. For example the legumes supply calcium, potassium, etc. to build bones and teeth whilst the phosphorous plants are believed to supply food for the brain and the nervous system.

Apart from food other materials obtained from the plant kingdom are stimulants, sedatives, laxatives, toxics etc. These are needed to balance the body chemistry and also in combination with other elements to overcome body illness thus bringing about perfect health. No wonder it is said ‘‘there is a divine alchemist within the temple.’’

Herbs we are told are grouped according to their needs and properties for our temples. Examples are: the Astringent herbs, the Aromatic herbs, the herbs used in dyeing clothes and in the cosmetic industry; the Tonic herbs, the Diuretic herbs, the Laxative herbs, Planetary herbs etc. etc.

In my association with herbalists and working with other international bodies on medicinal plant projects for many years, I have come to realize that our younger brothers of the plant kingdom have many beneficial uses known and unknown to our present generation.

Genesis 1:11 reads God commanded ‘‘Let the earth produce all kinds of plants, those that bear grain and those that bear fruit’’- and it was done. The verse 12 of the same chapter says ‘‘So the earth produced all kinds of plants and God was pleased with what He saw. In Genesis 2 verse 15 it is written and the Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient GOD placed man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it. Then in verse 16, the INTINITE UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE said, to man you may make use of any plant in the garden.

As a young child, on Christmas days, whenever I attended church service and the Priest happened to preach about the birth of Jesus the Christ, what interested me most at that time was the gifts brought in by Wise Men from the East. Little did I know that the frankincense and myrrh were herbs? Where were these plants grown? What are their uses? And other questions on the uses of plants for food, healing and spiritual purposes led me develop interest in the study of plants.

The following are some of the common uses of herbs and benefits to mankind:

a) some are used for Occult purposes to bring good luck or obtain your personal goals of love, sex, money, success or revenge.

b) herbs are used to remove tapeworms and other parasitic worms from our stomach and intestines.

c) some are used to treat kidney and urinary problems.

d) some are used to keep the body in good health and as laxatives.

e) some are used for women needs.

f) herbs are used for toilet preparations and as dyes in the textile industry.

g) herbs are used as perfumes, incense and as flavours.

Apart from the Masters only a few informed people, the alchemist, the monk and the philosopher has knowledge to make use herbs for health. Luckily today a lot of studies have been done on herbs and volumes have been written on them. Dear reader what do you know about these magical herbs. Send your comments to me through the editor.

Herbs are mentioned several times in the various sacred religious writings of the world. Herbs are given space in the Holy Bible. The reader is urged to read about 12 out of the over hundred plants mentioned in the bible. These are Almond (Numbers 17:1,2,3,8, Genesis 43:11); Aloes (John 9:38,39,40) Balm (Genesis 37:25); Bitter herbs (Numbers 9:9,10,11,12); Cinnamon (Revelation 18:11,12,15, Exodus 30:23,15,26); Cucumber (Numbers 11:4,5,6, Isaiah 1:8 ); Fig Tree (Genesis 3:6,7); Frankincense (Mathew 2:11); Garlic (Numbers 11:5,6,11,13,14); Hyssop (Exodus 12:21,22, Psalm 51:7); Mandrake (Genesis 30:1,14,22,23,24); and Myrrh (Mathew 2:11).

Reading with an open mind will help the reader to increase his knowledge about plants. In subsequent articles, I will discuss the remaining hundred plants mentioned in the Bible and also discuss comments received from readers on herbs.

In producing this short notes on plants, I don’t claim to be authority on the subject in fact all my knowledge on the subject is based on my dealings with herbalists and working with others on medicinal plant projects and international seminars attended on the subject for the past ten years.

Aburi Botanic Gardens, Ghana - Tit Bits

By George Owusu-Afriyie, Aburi Botanic Gardens, Ghana email:

Aburi welcomes two important personalities in the month of July

Aburi Botanic gardens is lucky to welcome two very important personalities to the Medicinal Plant Garden in the month of July.

  1. The Chair of IUCN – SCC Medicinal Plant Specialist Group Ms Danna J. Leaman is in Ghana as I write for a private visit. I have held discussions with her in Accra. Ms Danna Leaman plans to visit the 50 acre Medicinal Plant Garden at Aburi on the 19th July 2006. She leaves Ghana for Ottawa, Canada on 20th July 2006.
  2. Dr Keith Lindsey of Anamed, Germany is visiting Ghana from the 10-16 July 2006. Anamed is a group of scientists and health workers from many parts of the world who share a commitment to improving the mental, spiritual and economic health of individuals and communities.

The Director of Aburi Botanic Gardens is assisting and creating a platform to enable Dr Keith Lindsey to organize two seminars in Ghana. The aims of the seminar are to acquaint participants with the power and potential of Natural Medicine with regards to-

a) to improve health, particularly regarding malaria

b) strengthening local economies

and to assess whether in cooperation with local organizations there is scope for Anamed to be active in Ghana in the future and most importantly introduce Artemisia Annua Anamed programme in Ghana.

Artemisia Annua tea has been used in China for 2000 years without the development of any resistance and any serious side-effects.

The seminar will also look at the uses of some medicinal plants, such as Carica papaya (pawpaw), Moringa oleifera (moringa), Allium sativum (garlic) Artemisia annua.

The seminar will encourage employment in local communities in tropical countries in growing and harvesting plants, drying the leaves and in their distribution and sale.

We will coordinate a network of practitioners who share their knowledge and experience in the cultivation and use of herbal remedies in treating malaria.

Dr Keith Lindsey will visit the Medicinal Plant Garden at Aburi Botanic Gardens on the 15th July 2006 before leaving on the 16th July 2006.

Mr Theophilius Agbove has left Aburi as the curator of the Gardens. The position is currently vacant. A new curator will soon be appointed.

Stemming the Menace of Alien Plant Invasion Through Botanic Garden Education

Adeniyi A. Jayeola, Department of Botany, University of Ibadan, Ibadan,;

The ever-increasing aesthetic valuation of the people has led to unprecedented traffic of ornamental plants worldwide. Hall (1967) observed that, traffic between West Africa and other parts of the tropics has repeatedly led to the introduction of plants, which have subsequently established themselves as weeds; globally known as invasive plants. But ecologists argue that invasion had been an important component of the evolutionary process throughout the geological history. Well, nowadays, invasions are more likely to happen because of human activities from agriculture, commerce and ecotorism, than for other reasons.

Botanical Gardens University of Ibadan (BGUI) is currently battling to eradicate two elegant invaders, an Asystasia sp. and Ruellia tuberosa. These plants must have been introduced as ornamentals a long time ago, because they both have got what it takes to be admired by any lover of plants. Like typical K-strategists, they flower and set large quantities of seeds at intervals and make use of a wide variety of habitats. Their spread is phenomenal.

The privately owned commercial plant nurseries, called “flower/horticultural gardens”, are the main inlets and outlets of exotic ornamentals in Nigeria, through unregulated sales to the general public. While most introduced species are not invasive, and only a fraction of them pose real threats, biological invasion can impact adversely on biodiversity. Indeed, it is the second leading threat to the preservation of global biodiversity, coming after habitat loss and destruction. The economic loss in the United States due to invasive spp., runs into millions of dollars annually.

Several methods of dealing with invasive plants are known, such as mechanical, cultural, chemical and biocontrol. All these methods have wide-ranging shortcomings.

At the Botanical Garden University of Ibadan, our approach to stemming the menace of invasive plants is preventive, interacting regularly with the inlets/outlets, the commercial plant nursery operators, to point out to them, the potential dangers of trading in invasive plants, by providing botanical information on suspected invaders. Preventing the introduction of a potentially invasive plant is far less costly and far more effective than their eradication.

It should be possible for BGUI to organize a workshop on ethics of introducing and distributing exotic plants for commercial trade in Nigeria. This, we hope to do, hopefully, before the end of 2006. Environmental responsibility is the hallmark of a sustainable trade. Meanwhile, the education unit of BGUI is striving to build an image library of prints, paintings and drawings of potentially invasive ornamental plants in Nigeria.

Exhibition in a program to launch a tree planting campaign in Wakiso District

By Nkwanga Kintu David, Executive Director, Nature Palace Botanical Garden, Uganda

On 1st February 2006, Wakiso District, which hosts Nature Palace Botanical Garden, launched a tree planting campaign. This, according to the District Forestry officer, was in response to the current climatic conditions, which portray global warming trends. The occasion was officiated by the District chairperson, Eng. Ian Kyeyune who appealed to all stakeholders at various levels to participate in tree planting in order to try to reverse some of the repercussions of Natural resources degradation we are currently experiencing and to prevent worse ones to come.

NPBG exhibited threatened and endangered species; medicinal species that can be integrated in forestry development activities and propagation techniques that can boost horticultural practices. NPBG planted a mahogany tree at the district headquarters to mark this day.

People were attracted to the NPBG stall because items exhibited were unique from those of other exhibitors. The Medicinal plants, spices, neglected forestry food crops were a center of attraction. The organizers recommended NPBG for making a remarkable and 'challenging' exhibition.

Children's Retreat
On 18th December 2005, NPBG hosted a Children's Education and Leisure retreat. The children, ages 3 - 9, accompanied by their guardians/parents numbered fifty. The event was organized by The Adventist Families United for Development (AFAD) - a family life and development organization. In his remarks, at the end of the retreat, the coordinator of AFAD - Mr. Simwogerere said ''Both children and their parents achieved what they expected and even more - that is having fun while learning, a blend of culture and Nature.

To us at NPBG, it was both fulfilling and challenging. Children, who were basically from the city, enjoyed the natural environment and to many, this was the first time to visit a garden. Consequently, many at times converted their fun into destruction (Harvesting premature fruits, de-branching young plants etc). This, however, gave the attendants chance to explain the usefulness of some of these plants to the youngsters.

Facilitators in traditional folk songs and plays were pre-sourced and children were taken through these thrilling sessions, after which Nature lessons were blended in, in a free and relaxed atmosphere. At the end of event, the management of NPBG and AFAD resolved to make this an annual event.

First botanic garden conference in Egypt

Further information: Dr. Sayed Khalifa, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt. E-mail:

An international conference on “The Strategy of Botanic Gardens” was held from 10-12 May, 2006 at the Agriculture Museum, Dokki, Egypt. The conference, which was jointly organized by the Horticulture Research Institute, Agriculture Research Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and the National Gene Bank and Natural Protectorate Administration, was attended by 250 delegates from throughout Egypt and the surrounding region.

The main goals of the conference were to focus on the current concepts, strategies and ideas of national, regional and international gardens. It looked at a range of issues including: raising public awareness and promoting the integration of botanic garden concerns into national policy, decision making and general strategies; the integration of botanic gardens issues into education, training and extension; and enhancing the role of botanic gardens as centres for the conservation of plants and their sustainable utilization for economic, industrial and medicinal purposes.

A series of recommendations to assist the future development of the botanic gardens of Egypt were developed and are to be circulated for further action.

Medicinal plant conservation in Sinai

Further Information: Prof. Mohamed El-Demerdash. Email:

A number of Egypt’s threatened medicinal plants are now under protection following the creation of a Medicinal Plant Centre in St Katherine’s Protectorate on the Sinai Peninsula and the establishment of the Medicinal Plants Association.

The Medicinal Plant Centre was developed as part of a Medicinal Plants Conservation Project, initiated in Egypt in January 2003, to address the threats to the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s wild medicinal plants. The project is being jointly implemented by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Numerous target species are being propagated at the Medicinal Plants Centre in order that they may be restored to their natural habitats. In addition many of the area’s endangered and rare species are being cultivated in the Bedouin and Monastery orchards and small farms of the St Katherine’s Protectorate. An ex situ conservation site is also planned at the newly developed Sharm El-Sheikh Botanical Garden.