Research is an important part of our work in the Gothenburg botanical garden and is mostly performed in close collaboration with the University of Gothenburg. Below follows a small selection of ongoing projects.
Exploration of plant diversity
Most of the research aims to describe and understand the incredible diversity of plants. One of the main focuses is the outstanding species richness in tropical America. Gothenburg botanical garden explores the reasons why this area is one of the most species rich in the world. This knowledge is used to understand possible impacts of future changes (e.g. global warming) on biological diversity. Species collected during field expeditions are displayed for the public in the tropical greenhouses. The staff has also participated in a long-term project to document and describe the flora of Ecuador.
Correct naming of cultivated plants
To be able to talk about the plants around us they have to be named. In many cases correct and unequivocal names are essential, e.g. medicinal and allergenic plants. Gothenburg botanical garden continuously acts to improve the Swedish and international nomenclature for cultivated plants, constantly developing an open and highly used database.
Gothenburg botanical garden is involved in several projects aiming at protecting endangered plant species. Cultivation outside the natural habitat, e.g. in botanical gardens, is sometimes the only way to save species. An example is the toromiro-tree (Sophora toromiro), only known from Easter Island. It is extinct in the wild, but preserved in our greenhouses as a few specimens derived from the very last living tree. Efforts to replant it on Easter Island are in progress. Hundreds of other species cultivated in the Garden are currently threatened in their natural environment. The garden is also responsible for the maintenance of the adjacent nature reserve Änggårdsbergen, made up of a mosaic of broad-leaved and evergreen forests, heathlands, bogs and lakes.
The importance of nature and garden for health
Research has shown that visits in nature and garden are important for human health and well-being. Based on this knowledge, Gothenburg botanical garden provides nature based therapy of stress-related disorders as well as stress management courses. The program is connected to research, where the effects of nature based therapy and the participants' experiences are examined. Furthermore, Gothenburg botanical garden has a school program with educational visits for school children. The effects of outdoor activities and outdoor education on children's health are also a research interest.
Living plant collections
Gothenburg botanical garden holds the largest collection of tropical orchids in Sweden and one of the largest collections of wild Rhododendron in Scandinavia. For several genera of geophytes, such as Colchicum, Crocus and Muscari, the collections of wild species are among the largest in the world. The collection of the cushion-formed Dionysia species is also highly regarded internationally, and the extensive rock garden is made up of a scientific collection of alpine plants. Several scientific publications and descriptions of new plant species are based on the living collections found in Gothenburg botanical garden.