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Guzmania sanguinea var. sanguinea.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)

Do all the plants in your home or garden have the same value to you?

Probably not, and the same is true for plants in a botanical garden. However, unlike gardeners, the plant’s beauty and performance are not necessarily the elements that matter the most when the value of the plants is assessed in a botanical garden.  

The value of plants in a botanical garden

One of the most important criteria is where plants come from. A plant grown in the wild that has harvesting data has a scientific and conservation value that is much greater than a plant of uncertain or non-specific origin.

A species’ rarity in nature is another decisive criterion. However, rarity depends on the scale on which it is evaluated. At the Montréal Botanical Garden, we compile this data at several different levels:

  • Provincial, for the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles.
  • National, for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada – COSEWIC
  • Global: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

A species may be endangered in Québec, but not globally. Other criteria, such as the rarity of a cultivated species or its taxonomical importance, are also considered. For example, if a species in cultivation is the only representative of a botanical family or specific genus, its value will be higher.

Plant acquisition procedures

For a botanical garden, there are a number of ways to acquire plants:

  • Exchanges between gardens, arboretums or scientific institution.
  • Purchases from producers or seed distributors.
  • Donations.
  • Harvesting seeds or parts of plants in their natural habitat.

Based on an article by Denis Barabé and Édith Morin in Quatre-Temps magazine, 17(1), pp.55-58.

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