When Hendrik van Rheede, a naturalist and the administrator of the Dutch East India Company landed in Kerala as the Governor of Dutch Malabar in the seventeenth century the wealth and worth of the fauna of this land fascinated him so much that he ended up compiling a comprehensive treatise on them titled Hortus Malabaricus. Even now the pristine land of Kerala nurtures innumerous rare and precious plants of different species.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) formerly known as Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute is an autonomous institute established by the Government of Kerala at Palode in Thiruvananthapuram district. The institute is a unique and phenomenal venture to conserve, preserve and sustainably utilize the plant wealth of the State.
The idea of a botanic garden and research institute to study and conserve the rare and vanishing wild plant genetic resources of the country was indeed a brainchild of Prof. A. Abraham, a botanist and a great visionary. His dreams were materialized by the Government of Kerala which took a far-sighted decision resulting in the establishment of the institute on 17th November 1979.
Since then the institute has been playing a major role in conserving all those precious and threatened plant species in God's Own Country. JNTBGRI is now the largest living collection of trees and lianas numbering over 800 species. Other than this, the garden nurtures medicinal, aromatic and spice plants of over 700 species, orchids over 600 species and 150 hybrids, bamboos over 60 species, rare and threatened plants over 200 species and the list goes on. The living collections of these plants are credited to be the largest in South Asia. Special groups like Zingibers, Bougainvillea, and aquatic plants are made and maintained for conservation, display and education.
JNTBGRI has developed a garden of modern design with conservatories for ex situ conservation and scientific studies for sustainable utilization. Thirty species of flowering plants, which were long believed to be extinct, were rediscovered by the scientists of the institute. The unseen and undiscovered beauties of Kerala in the form of 142 species of native plants having ornamental potential were introduced into horticulture by JNTBGRI.
JNTBGRI is now a recognized centre for research on orchids by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of India. For those interested in research on the flora of Kerala, JNTBGRI is an inevitable place to visit. It has made available a properly maintained reference herbarium of Kerala flora comprising 51,104 specimens, set up for students, researchers and scientists. So next time you come to Kerala, make sure you visit JNTBGRI to experience the immeasurable flora wealth of Kerala.
For more information on JNTBGRI, log on to www.jntbgri.res.in.