When in Romania...
Join Dr. Mile for a guided tour around one of
Europe 's less well-known Botanic Gardens.
Dr. Felician Micle, Senior Researcher, Botanical Garden, Cluj-Napoca,
Chamaerops No. 10, published online 23-09-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
The entrance gates (above) to one of Europe's lesser
known Botanic Gardens, at Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where, against a
background of Pandanus, Cordylines and palms, the Amazon Water Lily
- Victoria regia - can be seen in all it's glory (below) in one
of the tropical glass houses.
The Botanical Garden of the University of Cluj (Romania)
was founded by Professor Alexandru Borza in 1920. With a surface
of 14 hectares, it has areas and microclimates suitable for the
cultivation of a great variety of plant species from every continent.
We have about 10,000 species in total. It was created mainly for
study and research purposes for biology students, but is also a
place where the general public is encouraged and taught to love
and respect nature.
The garden is divided into several sectors: ornamental,
phyto-geographical, sytematical, economical and medicinal. In the
phyto-geographical sector the Asiatic flora is well represented
by a beautiful Japanese garden, also the flora of the Alps and Pyrenees,
of North America, the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. Needless
to say, the vegetation of Romania itself is well represented by
plants from all botanical regions of the country.
An interesting exhibit is the Roman Garden in which
species cultivated many centuries ago in the gardens of the Roman
patricians are to be found, with names still used in the Romanian
We have two greenhouses with a total area of 3,500
square metres in which tropical and subtropical plants are cultivated.
The houses are 25m long and 15m high, and they have a minimum temperature
of between 16¾C and 20¾C, year round, together with a relative humidity
of between 60% and 95%, depending on the time of year and the weather.
Every day at 2pm during the summer, the plants are watered with
an overhead sprinkler system for 15 minutes. Some of the palms are
placed outside in the open air for the summer.
Within the garden, there is also the Institute of
Botany with two fields: the Botanical Museum and the Herbarium.
In the museum there are about 7,600 specimens to be found, representing
the most interesting of the Romanian and exotic plants. The Herbarium
has about 650,000 herbarium sheets with botanical material from
all over the world, but mainly from Romania.
The Botanical Garden of the University publishes
the following journals: 'Botanical Contributions', 'The Seed Catalogue'
and 'Flora Romaniae Exsiccata' which provide an exchange programme
of plant material and scientific magazines with over 450 similar
institutes in 80 countries.
Today in the garden there are over 80 palm species
of widely differing ages and sizes. They have mainly come from seeds
exchanged with other Botanic gardens all over the world, but especially
Bogor (Indonesia), Peradineya (Sri Lanka), Havana (Cuba), Sydney
(Australia), Berlin-Dahlem (Germany), Oxford-Kew (England) and Antibes
(France). The average age of our palm trees is between 30 and 40
years, but there are also some that are much older. We have a Phoenix
canariensis of 120 years, which is 15m high, a Howea forsteriana
of 60 years that is l0m and a Chamaerops humilis, which is 65 years
old, and 8m high. Among the very young palms there are Rhopalostylis
sapida of just 3 years old, Calamus cambojensis of 4 years old,
and a 2-year-old specimen of Sabal havanensis.
The seeds, which we get from other botanical institutions,
are sown in a propagating greenhouse at a temperature of 25¾-28¾C
in terracotta pots. The length of time for germination differs with
the species. With some it is just a few weeks, others take 4-5 months
or even a year. In order to accelerate this process some seeds are
scarified. Once germinated the young plants are grown on in a mixture
of garden loam, compost and sand. Most are grown in wooden crates,
which have to be replaced every 2/3 years. They are top-dressed
every year to provide nutrients.
Some of the palms are growing directly in the ground
in the greenhouse: Cocos nucifera, Phoenix canariensis, Elaeis guineensis,
Caryota mitis and Washingtonia robusta. Although the soil in the
greenhouses is poor, and solid clay below l.5m depth, those species
mentioned seem to grow well enough. As a general rule we do not
apply additional fertilizers to the palms cultivated in our garden.
All in all, we consider that we have a very interesting
collection of palms, with widely differing geographical origins,
shapes and aspects; a good representation of the 'family Palmae'.
The Botanic Garden of the University of Cluj will try to enrich
its palm collection to the benefit of all those who love and want
to know more about the wonderful world of plants.
* * *
With his article, Dr. Micle was kind enough to
send a list of the more than 80 species of palms growing in the
garden. I'd be happy to send a copy to anyone who would like one.
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06-08-20 - 00:40GMT
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