This is the biodiversity hotspot of the biology department. Our botanical garden is relatively small in size (10 000 m²) but houses a vast collection of plants (around 3000 species) from various tropical and native ecosystems.
Key tasks of the garden are to support both research and academic teaching by providing horticultural knowhow, facilities and plants for researchers, lecturers and students. Moreover, it fulfills an important function as provider of gardening apprenticeships in Rhineland-Palatinate and, last not least, serves the enjoyment and the education of visitors in the fields of natural history, botany and horticulture. The collection is nursed by 2,5 gardeners, the head gardener Matthias Seidel, and 9 trainees.
Among the themes addressed in the outdoor section are:
- Natural grassland community with diverse native wildflowers
- Sandstone gorge with native cryptogam communities
- Pond with aquatic flora and fauna (fed by water course from sandstone gorge)
- Beech forest section with a collection of typical tree/shrub species and herbs
- Traditional country garden with old ornamental and (endangered) crop varieties
- Witch's garden with an ethnobotanical focus on traditionally used plants
- Herb spiral with kitchen and rare aromatic plants
- Apothecary's garden with medicinal herbs
- Dry sandstone wall vegetation and slopes with arid thermophilous grassland communities
feature diverse life forms from tropical, subtropical, and desert ecosystems across the world. There are several thematic aspects such as:
- Plants from the Amazon and their (medicinal) use by tribal communities (with annotations by an indigenous shaman)
- Plants of taxonomic importance such as the palm fern Cycas revoluta or the bizarre Welwitschia mirabilis (both are so-called living fossils).
- Tropical ant-plants which live in a tight symbiosis with ants (e.g. Myrmecodia)
- Well-known tropical crop species with economic importance, such as rice, sugar cane, cotton, manioc, pepper, vanilla, ginger, pistachio, etc.
- Famous tropical fruits, for example, papaya, pineapple, banana, cacao, coffee, avocado, pitanga (Brazilian Cherry)
- Showy attractions - gorgeous or spectacular or particularly ornamental plants such as Uncarina grandidieri (Sesamgewächse), Traveller's Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis), Pandanus palm (Pandanus pygmaeus) or Epiphyllum chrysocardium (Cactaceae).
- Pepper collection: a selection of Central-American pepper species such as e.g. Piper darienense. This pepper species originates from the Darien-rainforest of Panama and is used by the indigenous community as an local anaesthetic for dental surgery (where it is called “duerme boca” –“sleeping mouth”).
- Climbers, creepers and stranglers – a collection of tropical lianas, vines and hemiepiphytes (e.g. strangler figs of the genus Ficus, or passion flowers, Passiflora)
- The Epiphytes: plants that grow upon trees, such as bromeliads, elkhorn ferns (Platycerium), epiphytic cacti (e.g. Epiphyllum) or the “air plant” (Tillandsia usneoides).
- Orchid section: one of the Greenhouse's most showy has more than 50 orchids, including many representatives from the genera Dendrobium, Bulbophyllum, Masdevallia, Oncidium, and Phalaenopsis.
- Carnivores - tropical pitcher plants (genus Nepenthes) and other meat-eaters
- Desert and Savanna species such as Frangipani (Plumeria), desert roses (Adenium spp.) or Jatropha, one of the best candidates for future biodiesel production.
- Plants from tropical aquatic habitats, such as papyrus sedge or paper reed (Cyperus papyrus) or mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) including a Turtle pool and a paludarium (vivarium with both terrestrial and aquatic elements).