Botanic Garden Meise
Institution Code: BR
BGCI Member: Yes
About the Botanic Garden Meise
Botanic Garden Meise is one of the largest botanic gardens in the world. The living plant collections contribute to the botanical and horticultural research as well as to the education and conservation activities of the Garden. The greenhouse and outdoor collections together hold nearly 25000 accessions of living plants (about 17400 taxa and 3170 genera) which is about 6% of all known plant species of the world. Half of them can be seen in our greenhouses (Plant Palace), the other half, comprising cultivated and indigenous plants, grows outdoors.
The Outdoor Collections accommodate about 7630 taxa from all temperate regions of the world. A major part of them is planted in thematic collections open to the general public. Three systematic collections form the core of these plantings: the Herbetum (herbaceous plants arranged to the systems of Cronquist & Takhtajan), the Fruticetum (woody plants arranged to the system of Dahlgren) and the Coniferetum (gymnosperms arranged by genus). Nearly all hardy or 'half-hardy' genera are represented in these collections.
Another collection type is shown by the genera collections which give a thorough overview of the representatives of species and cultivars in the genera Quercus, Rhododendron, Hydrangea, Acer (Japanese & Chinese), Magnolia. Other developed thematic collections are the medicinal plants garden, the North American forest theme, the Mediterranean plants collection. A lot of collection plants are displayed in shrubberies and mixed borders all over the park. Rare or unusual tree species and cultivars are dispersed over the lawns and play the role of salt and pepper in the landscape dominated by indigenous tree plantations. Other important collections (e.g. Rosa and Paeonia) are occasionally open to the general public.
Well-represented plant families (on the whole outdoor collections) are Pinaceae (43% of extant species of the world), Aceraceae (42%), Betulaceae (39%), Hydrangeaceae (37%), Caprifoliaceae (33%), Cornaceae (31%), Cupressaceae (20%), Berberidaceae (16%), Ranunculaceae (14%) and Rosaceae (13%).
Some trees are really champion trees of Belgium and need special attention or care.
Botanic Garden Meise
Domein van Bouchout
Telephone: 32 (0)2 260 09 20
Fax: 32 (0)2 260 09 45
Rescuing critically endangered species in Belgium
In Europe semi-natural grassland habitats and their characteristic species are considered as highly threatened. Southern Belgium is an important area for the conservation of semi-natural grassland types listed in the annexes of the Habitats Directive. There is an urgent need to preserve, restore and manage the few remaining, often degraded, habitat patches. Part of this task includes the restoration of populations of critically endangered plant species that without intervention would not regenerate naturally due to restricted seed dispersal abilities and the absence of a persistent seed bank in the soil.
Botanic Garden Meise, in the framework of the EU-LIFE project “Herbages” (LIFE11NAT/BE/001060), has implemented population translocations into the wild for four critically endangered plant species (Dianthus deltoides, Helichrysum arenarium, Arnica montana and Campanula glomerata). The aim is to increase the effective size of remaining populations (reinforcement) and to restore extinct populations (reintroduction) in order to improve connectivity in the landscape. Reintroductions were prepared using a four-step approach: 1) the selection and profiling of the target species; 2) the source population selection and seed collection; 3) the development of propagation protocols and 4) the assessment of plant fitness of the populations used as seed source before planting out.
Collecting young leaf material at each source population for genetic analyses
For each species, a population of 500 to 700 young individuals was transplanted into three to six sites. Once in situ these plants (which are permanently labelled) were precisely mapped to facilitate their long-term monitoring. Each translocated population consists of a mixture of plants from different origins arranged in order to maximise pollen exchanges between different origins.
The first results have been very positive: over 90% of reintroduced individuals survived the transplantation stress, and the flowering rate (>30% on average) is impressive, sometimes just a few months after transplantation. Seedlings and clonal propagation have been observed indicating a potential for population expansion. Monitoring of reintroduced populations will continue for 10 years as only a long-term monitoring will tell what their future will be in the long run.
Please contact Sandrine Godefroid for more information about this project.
2,100 successfully propagated Arnica montana plants