A Tropical Garden in the centre of Europe!

One of the many exciting activities that happened at Tropentag 2022 was the Botanical Garden Tour! As the students entered the garden Jakub Abelard Pospisil, Student & Head of Fairtrade organization ‘BeFair’ at the Fakulty of Tropical Agrisciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, welcomed everyone with a big smile. He was in charge to take the students across the garden and looked very excited to have everyone. As the students entered the garden Jakub exclaimed “look above you!, there is the Passiflora alata!, commonly known as winged-stem passion flower”, the students were stunned by the absolute beauty of the flower. Jakub further pointed towards the Mango tree and one of the students from Vietnam jumped on her feet out excitement as she had many memories relishing the delicious fruits as a child. Jakub shared that it was this excitement that the garden aims to create and encourage people to know more about the world of Tropical plants, especially the ones who haven’t visited the Tropics. The garden was established in January 1, 1968 as a tropical greenhouse was built where useful heat-loving plants brought from different continents were planted and maintained.

Jakub (first from the right) interacting with the students

Jakub further took the students around the garden describing the other plants and their associated uses. He pointed towards a large shrub and asked everyone to guess what the plant was and after a long pause someone exclaimed “That is coffee!” It was the Coffee arabica and everyone was excited to see the leaves up close as they do not get to see coffee leaves often. He showed us the Coconut tree and asked the students to be careful not to stand directly under the tree as the impact of a coconut tree on someone’s head could result in a serious injury. Next sensation of the tour was the Curry tree and everyone was requested to touch the leaves and smell their hands as the flavor was so strong, a slight touch on the leaf could leave a strong odor on your hand! Jakub shared that it was one of his favorite trees and that it also had many medicinal properties.

Jakub with the students and the Curry tree (Murraya koenigii)

An interesting but tempting practice that is followed in the Garden is strictly not to eat the fruits grown inside the garden unless they fall. He laughed as he shared his time as a young scholar he used to tap on the fruits so they fell but now is very conscious about it as there are usually not many species of the same plant and that is why there is a rule not to pluck any fruit. Next part of the garden was the so called ‘Sub-tropical Garden’ which stores plants from Sub tropical areas. As the students entered the garden they relished the beautiful aroma of the Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Many students shared how they use tea tree oil but had never smelt the leaves directly, therefore it was a surreal experience for them to finally smell the source of the oil.

Myself in the white t-shirt on the left with participants of the Botanical Garden tour with Jakub on the right

The students started pointing towards many similar plants they interacted with as a child and shared their stories among themselves. When Jakub was asked by one of the visitors, how the garden maintains the tropical plant especially during the winter season as they are all tropical plants, he explained to them about a special heating system that the the garden contains inside that keeps the temperature regulated across the year. Jakub further added that students could also buy a few plants from the nursery of the garden at affordable price as the garden also has it’s own nursery! The garden houses 110 species of plants grown in open ground and counting as the Faculty continues to add to the collection. The garden is open for public and the timings are Mon-Thu, 8 am to 3 Pm and Friday from 8 am to 1 pm. The students were happy to know that the garden was open to public and were full of smiles and joy as they experienced being a child again hopping from one plant to another!

Here is the link to the website of the garden: