Located in House 1 - Our palm collection boasts of dramatic color variations, sizes and shapes. Second only to the grasses in economic importance, palms produce fruits, cosmetics, livestock feed, oils, waxes, building materials, jewelry, sugar, rattan and raffia. Here are a few striking in appearance!
Bismarkia “Silver Select” or Silver Bismarkia
Family: Palmae; Native to Tropical Regions
Outstanding in its striking silver color, this native of Madagascar makes a very dramatic landscape plant. This tough plant is drought resistant but grows best with regular and adequate moisture.
Dypsis leptocheilos or Teddy Bear Palm
Family: Palmae; Native to Tropical Regions
This palm is named Teddy Bear Palm because the leaf crown has an outstanding color of deep orange-brown and is felt-like to the touch.
Located in House 1 - These miniature tropical trees are sure to pique your interest. Discover interesting facts about cashews, lychee fruits, and dragon fruits to name a few.
Anacardium occidentale or cashew tree
Family: Anacardiaceae; Native to the West Indies
Roast ‘em and toast ‘em…The true fruit of the cashew is the kidney shaped drupe (a single seed as in a peach) that grows at the end of the cashew apple. But watch out! The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing the potent skin irritant, urushiol. Properly roasting the cashew destroys the toxin, but this must be done out doors as the smoke can cause severe life-threatening reactions if inhaled.
Litchi chinensis or the Lychee Fruit
Family: Sapindaceae; Native to South China
Hmm…Chanel #5 or a dab of lychee fruit behind each ear? This fresh fruit has a delicate, whitish pulp with a perfume flavor. Rich in vitamin C, on average nine lychee fruits would meet an adult’s daily recommended Vitamin C requirement.
Hylocereus sp. or The Dragon Fruit or Pitaya or Pitahaya
Family: Cactaceae; Native to Mexico, Central America and South America
A sheep in wolf’s clothing? This scary looking fruit of the Hylocereus species has a taste that’s been described as being very bland…like a melon or kiwi with a mild sweetness. Its black crunchy seeds are eaten together with the flesh but don’t eat the skin—the skins of most commercially produced fruits are likely to be polluted with pesticides.
Located in Houses 1, 2, 3 & 5 - Our Botanical Gardens has thousands of Tropicals in residency. Take a vacation to paradise without going near the airport. Here are just a few you won’t want to miss!
Theobroma cacao – The Chocolate Tree
Family: Malvaceae; Native to the American Tropics
Heaven “scent”…Theobroma comes from the Greek, meaning “food of the gods.” The seeds or beans of the cacao, said “ca kay oh”, tree are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate. Don’t try planting this tree in your yard, however. The only state that will support its growth is Hawaii.
Clusia major - Pitch Apple or Autograph Tree
Family: Clusiaceae; Native to the Caribbean; Panama
Gooey business!!! This fruit of Caribbean beauty produces a black resinous material which was used in the olden days to tar ships and thus waterproof them. Its upper leaf tissues registers ‘writing’ thus giving it its nickname, Autograph Tree.
Manikara zapota or Sapodilla or The Chewing Gum Tree
Family: Sapotaceae; Native to Central America
A sticky situation… The gummy latex sap of the bark of this tree native to South America was first used by the Mayans and the Aztecs to make chewing gum. The Wrigley Company was a prominent user of it until the 1960’s when it was replaced by a synthetic substitute.
Mimosa pudica or the Sensitive Plant
Family: Leguminosae; Native to Brazil
It’s no shrinking violet but…a gentle touch or a soft breeze is all that is needed to cause the rapid drooping of the leaves of the Sensitive Plant. Why not touch for yourself and be amazed at the rapid seismonastic movement that results?
Located in House 2 - Our ponds are home to those tropical plants that like wet feet and to the Japanese koi that swim among them.
Cyperus papyrus or the Paper Plant
Family: Cyperaceae; Native to Egypt
Discover how the ancient Egyptians were early recyclers reusing sheets of papyrus covered with plaster, then painted brightly and laid atop of wrapped mummies.
Thank you to the Niagara Frontier Koi and Pond Club for helping to care for our Koi Collection!
Located in House 2 - The kids will love visiting with “Chomper”, “Swooper”, “Stretch”, “Stubby”, “Mr. Spikes” and “Snap”, our resident dinosaurs topiaries. In case you’re wondering, Chomper is a Tyrannosaurus with large googly eyes, Swooper is a Pteranodon with wings outstretched; Stretch is an Apatosaurus carefully watching over her baby, Stubby; Mr. Spikes is a Stegosaurus guarding the bridge and Snaps is a Rutiodon waiting for a tender morsel.
Located in House 2 & 3 - Ferns are some of the oldest plants in the world producing neither seeds nor flowers, but rather reproducing by spores found on the underside of their fronds. Ancient ferns are responsible for the fossil fuels we use today to heat our homes, power our automobiles, and produce other synthetic products. One of our more outstanding species is as follows:
Platycerium bifurcatum or The Staghorn Fern
Family: Polypodiaceae; Native to East Australia; New Guinea, New Caledonia, Sunda Islands
This impressive species produces two types of fronds - the sterile, cabbage leaf-shaped fronds that laminate against a supporting tree or other entity and protect the ferns roots from damage and desiccation, and the fertile antler-shaped fronds that bear spores on their undersides.
Located in House 4 - We have an entire greenhouse devoted to these moisture-holding plants indigenous to the drier regions of the world. Here are just a few to “whet” your appetite.
Stepelia gigantea or Carrion Flower or Giant Toad Plant
Family: Asclepiadaceae; Native to South Africa
Don’t get too close! The odor of the flower of this plant attracts flies like a dead horse—with good reason. It needs blow flies for pollination.
Lithops sp. or Living Stones
Family: Mesembryanthemaceae; Native to South Africa
Check out these fat-cheeked little succulents from South Africa. Two thick fused leaves in the shape of an inverted cone make up their chubby little bodies. If you didn’t know it, you would think they were just some rocks strewn about in the garden.
Located in House 5 - Bonsai is a horticultural art form that originated in Asian cultures. The word bonsai consists of two words, ‘bon’ and ‘sai’. ‘Bon’ means tray and ‘sai’ means planting. Therefore, the literal meaning of bonsai is tray planting. Bonsai are ordinary trees that are kept small through regular maintenance, including pruning of the branches and roots and repotting. Any woody plant has the potential to become a bonsai. The tray and tree should complement each other in color, shape and texture.
The tree will be pruned and trained to maintain a specific look. Trunks and branches can be shaped during training using wire. You may be able to see some wire twisted along some of the trees in the collection. While many bonsai are kept outdoors, the ones displayed in Greenhouse 5 are plants that grow well in a greenhouse environment. Make sure to look out the windows- the temperate bonsai collection is able to be viewed where the trees are happiest-outside!
Moss is frequently used as a groundcover for bonsai since it retains water and holds the soil in the container. Being a tiny plant, moss maintains the miniature image of bonsai. Surrounding the exhibit is a filler plant called Depressed Clearweed. Many bonsai are also paired with an accent plant. Little hostas and some varieties of cacti or succulents are commonly used as accents in their own tiny tray!
The collection is cared for by the Bonsai Study Group and the Buffalo Bonsai Society.
The Medicinal Garden Collection
Located in House 5 - Our Medicinal Garden Collection, developed in collaboration with D’Youville School of Pharmacy and Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, provides visitors with a better understanding of the importance of medicinal plants and how they are used in traditional, herbal and modern medicines. The Collection further strengthens public awareness of the interdependence between humans and plants. This collection varies from month to month, depending upon the highlighted theme. Click here for upcoming Medicinal Garden Features!
Located in House 5 - Venus Fly Traps, Sundews, Butterworts and Pitcher Plants make up our terrifying (to insects, spiders, small rodents and birds, that is) collection. Learn how these dastardly fellows lure unsuspecting prey to their deaths, thus providing these predator plants with the nitrogen that is missing in the soil where they grow.
Thank you to the Western New York Carnivorous Plant Club for helping to get our collection underway!
Located in House 9 - So is it an herb or a spice??? Visit our Herb Collection for the answers, but don’t come hungry! The scents from our culinary herb and scented geranium collection are sure to send your epicurean senses reeling. There’s sage, lavender, Italian parsley, lavage and stevia to name a few and you won’t want to miss the aromatic plants of our mint collection with their square stems and opposite leaves.
Thank you to the Western New York Herb Study Group for helping to care for our Herb Collection!
Western New York Herb Study Group - Donna Schober, Presiden
Located in House 9 - We are proud to have the largest public ivy collection in the world housing over 400 varieties. Ivies, like a number of other plants, have a juvenile stage or form in which the overall appearance differs markedly from the adult or flowering phase. But don’t worry - we don’t have poison ivy – which isn’t really ivy, at all!
Thank you to the Western New York Ivy Society for helping to care for our Ivy Collection!
Western New York Ivy Society - Ronnie Dapp - 825.7941 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Located in House 11 - The foliage of this varied family takes different shapes, from needle thin to broad and flat, symmetrical to irregular, spiky to soft. Flower spikes may reach 10 meters tall while others only measure 2-3 mm. across. Check out these two!
Tillandsia usneoides or Spanish Moss
Family: Bromeliaceae; Native to Southeastern United States and Tropical America
This plant may drive you buggy! Amazingly, this hairy, stringy plant with inconspicuous pale green or blue flowers is in the same family as the pineapple (Bromeliaceae). An air plant, it has no roots and catches water and nutrients with tiny silvery-gray scales. Think twice about using it for bedding or packing, however. Bed bugs and chiggers love to call it home.
Family: Bromeliaceae; Native to South America
A frog’s swimming hole? This genus with mostly broad, relatively flat leaves forms a shallow depression in the center of the plant which often fills with water through which the flowers bloom. This “vase” provides a handy site for tropical frogs to lay their eggs.
Located in Houses 8 & 11 - Our Orchid collection has numerous species on display. The magnificent fragrances emanating from these tropical beauties will call you back time and time again.
Dendrophylax lindenii or Ghost Orchid
Family: Orchidaceae; Native to Caribbean Region
Don’t get spooked by the rare Ghost Orchid that resides in our Florida House - House 12. This scary fellow hides underground until he’s ready to flower. Amazingly, he can carry out photosynthesis in his roots!
Family: Orchidaceae: Native to Asia
Come savor the fragrance of vanilla and chocolate without puttin’ on the pounds! Our easy to grow Oncidium, Sharry Baby “Sweet Fragrance” AM/AOS may tempt you to take a bite. But don’t! This orchid is not edible.
Thank you to the Niagara Frontier Orchid Society for helping to care for our Orchid Collection!The Niagara Frontier Orchid Society works at the Botanical Gardens on Wednesday mornings - Visit between 10am-12pm on Wednesdays for free orchid advice and re-potting services.