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Saigon Botanic Garden - The First Botanic Garden in Vietnam

Volume 2 Number 4 - December 1994

Nguyen Nghia Thin

Saigon Botanic Garden (SBG) was established in 1864 - the first botanic garden in Vietnam. This was the work of French Government in Vietnam, according to a Resolution of 23 March 1864 during the first years of occupation. Mr Germein was appointed to manage and establish the garden. An area of 12 ha. was chosen for the garden, situated a few hundred metres from the city. The ground was leveled and a plant nursery was started. In 1865, Louis Pierre, a herbarium curator from Calcutta Botanic Garden, India was appointed as Director of the Saigon Botanic Garden.

The original aim of the Garden was to grow a mixture of local and exotic species which has been continued to the present day.

In 1877, Marine Correy was appointed Director of the Garden as M. L. Pierre returned to France. M. Corroy published a list of plants in cultivation in the Garden in Annales du Jardin Botanique et de la Ferm‚ exp‚rimentale des Mares 2nd fase Juillet 1878 br. in 4 p. 30-90. The same year, Karl Schroeder also published an article in which 902 species in the botanic garden were cited. In 1898 and 1905, two further lists were published by E. Haffner, a later Director of Garden.

On the 1st January 1919, SBG was affiliated to the Scientific Institute of Indochina (SII) headed by Xavier Salomon. Nguyen Duc Hiep was a specialist who was responsible for living plants and the herbarium. At that time the number of plant species grown was 1,500.

During the South Vietnam occupation by the Americans the Saigon Botanic Garden hardly changed and it became a place for relaxation.

Since 1975 there has been little investment in the garden and all scientific work has ceased. However, SBG is still a centre of plant conservation and conservation education in Ho Chi Minh city in particular and the South in general. Many species in SBG represent the flora of South Vietnam such as Dipterocarpus, Hopea, Shorea, Pentacme, Vattia and Sindora.