Collections of the Jardin des Plantes

With its planted spaces, remarkable trees, statues and walkways, the Jardin des Plantes offers visitors a varied and well-preserved setting. It enables you to follow the natural plant cycles of growth, flowering and fruiting as the seasons turn.

Presentation

At the Jardin des Plantes, beginners and amateurs alike can observe thousands of species and varieties of rare and common plants by exploring the eleven gardens, each with their own theme and atmosphere.

  • The Carrés de la perspective (Squares of perspective): beds containing seasonal ornamental shrubs and plants that are replanted twice a year
  • The Jardin des plantes ressources (Resource plant garden): wild and horticultural plants presented in terms of their various uses to humans
  • The École de Botanique (Botany School): the diversity of plants in temperate zones organised by scientific classification
  • The Jardin alpin (Alpine garden): mountain plants grouped by biogeographical origin
  • The Jardin écologique (Ecological garden): presentation of plant groups in Île-de-France (Paris region)
  • The Grandes Serres (Great Glasshouses): tropical and subtropical plants representing rainforests, arid environments, flora of New Caledonia, etc., or presented to evoke the different stages in the evolution of plants
  • The Jardin de roses et de roches (Rose and Rock garden): rose garden and collection of minerals
  • The Jardin des pivoines (Peony garden): collection of Japanese peonies and magnolias
  • The Jardin des abeilles et des oiseaux (Garden of Bees and Birds): natural biodiversity reserve
  • The Labyrinth: trees and shrubs, including many historical specimens
  • The Jardin des iris et des plantes vivaces (Iris and Perennials garden): ornamental collection of horticultural perennials

Plants by the thousands

  • 8,500 species and varieties: wild plants from different natural environments and horticultural varieties
  • 2,000 trees including some remarkable specimens planted by naturalists since the 17th century
  • 2,500 shrubs
  • 8,500 perennial herbaceous plants
  • 2,000 glasshouse plants
  • 80,000 seasonal plants

Vast spaces: 19 hectares (47 acres)

  • Carrés de la perspective: 2.5 hectares (6 acres) from the Lamarck statue next to the Seine to the Buffon statue near the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution
  • Jardin alpin: 4,000 m2
  • Jardin écologique: 10,000 m2
  • École de botanique: 9,500 m²
  • Jardin des iris et des plantes vivaces: 1,500 m2

Nearly 500 metres of walkways (between the Valhubert entrance by the Seine and the Grande Galerie de l’Évolution).

The seed bank

The seed bank is a collection of living seeds to serve the Jardin and research in general. They are stored in a cold room and in freezers to ensure they germination capacity is conserved for several decades. There are three different collections.

The active “nature” collection (nearly 6,000 samples) is made up of seeds harvested in the wild in the different regions of France. It serves to enrich the Jardin and for exchanges within the botanical garden network by the intermediary of a small catalogue published each year known as the “index seminum”.

The active “garden” collection (more than 2,000 species/year) comprises seed harvested in the different areas of the Jardin des Plantes and from specific plants selected for seed production in the seed garden. They are used to replenish stocks and produce young plants for the Jardin.

The Ensconet collection (5,600 samples conserved since 2006) covers the wild species of flora in France, selected for long-term conservation in the framework of the  Ensconet European programme which aims to safeguard the diversity of European flora.

The Jardin des Plantes’ Index seminum
The “La Jaÿsinia” Alpine garden’s Index seminum

Contact: graine [@] mnhn.fr

History

1635 - A royal edict by Louis XIII creates the Jardin royal des plantes médicinales (Royal garden of medicinal plants) between la Bièvre and what is now rue Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.

1640 - The Jardin Royal is officially opened after being redeveloped and sown; it offers free teaching in French (rather than in Latin) on botany, chemistry and anatomy.

1739 – Georges-Louis Leclerc, Count of Buffon, is named Superintendent of the Jardin, a role he keeps until his death in 1788.

1793 – A decree by the National Convention (a parliament of the French Revolution) gives birth to the Muséum d’histoire naturelle; the gardens take the name Jardin des Plantes.

1822 – The seed garden is created by André Thouin, director of the Chaire d'Agriculture et culture des jardins (Garden agriculture and culture Chair)

1834 and 1836 – Two square glasshouses are built by Charles Rohault de Fleury, architect at the Muséum: the New Caledonia glasshouse (former Mexican glasshouse) and the Histoire des plantes (History of Plants) glasshouse (former Australian glasshouse)

1931 to 1936 – Creation of the Jardin alpin

1935 and 1936 – Construction of the tropical rainforest glasshouse (former jardin d’hiver / winter garden)

1938 – Creation of the Jardin écologique

1964 - Creation of the Jardin des iris et des plantes vivaces

1990 – Planting of the rose garden

2010 – Reopening of the Jardin des Plantes’ great glasshouses, following renovation

2010 – Redevelopment of the École de botanique

Activities

All the plants growing in the Jardin des Plantes are labelled and recorded in a database. Thus we know their provenance and botanical identity and they are monitored throughout their life.

They are grouped into gardens and collections following scientific criteria or for the purposes of disseminating knowledge. Thus, in the École de botanique, for use by the students, the plants are presented to reflect the most up-to-date scientific classification for plants. In the Grandes Serres, Jardin alpin and Jardin écologique, the plants are presented in arrangements that reconstruct their original natural habitats (rockeries, prairies, forests, etc.). This provides the opportunity to explain their astonishing adaptations and to raise awareness in the public about plants and the need to protect them.

All these presentations allow the visitors to discover close-up plants that few people have the chance to see in nature, since they often come from inaccessible, distant lands!

Preferably, the plants come from natural populations or from lineages of wild origin. This is the case for many of the historical trees in the Jardin des Plantes that came here in the form of seeds harvested in nature: many of them are the first in their species to be introduced in the West. Equally, many plants are produced each year to add to the Jardin’s collections. This is done in the seed garden for the perennials and in the Chèvreloup horticultural glasshouses for the seasonal horticultural plants.

The Jardin’s plant collections are available to researchers working in the Museum’s laboratories and in other institutions in the world, as raw material for scientific studies (plant classification, searches for useful molecules, research into resistance to cold, drought, etc.).

The collections also include rare or endangered plants for which ex situ conservation, i.e. outside their natural habitat, has become essential. As such, they constitute banks of plant biodiversity. This is the case for example for the Malagasy plants in the Paris glasshouses, and for those conserved in seed form in the seed banks.

When possible, the plants are multiplied so as to exchange them (in the form of seeds, cuttings and plants) free of charge across the botanical garden network so that the rarest and least known plants are widely distributed. The botanical gardens thus constitute a vital community to safeguard plant biodiversity.

Visit the Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants)

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