Original Research

Plant utilization: A core activity of the National Botanic Gardens

J. N. Eloff
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 6, No 3 | a956 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v6i3.956 | © 1987 J. N. Eloff | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 March 1987 | Published: 17 March 1987

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J. N. Eloff,, South Africa

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Abstract

The National Botanic Gardens were given a directive by the Forestry Act of 1984 “to promote the conservation of, and research in connection with southern African flora” and also, inter alia, to investigate and utilize, and promote the utilization of, the economic potential of indigenous plants. Although plants were cultivated for economic purposes when Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 and there were already 222 economically important species in the garden in 1933, the effort was later abandoned as a result of other problems which had higher priority. However, the distribution of seed of indigenous species and cut flowers, both locally and overseas, has continued to increase. Surplus plants have, for the past ten years been supplied directly to the public by means of a plant sale at Kirstenbosch. At other gardens of the NBG plant sales are also held on a yearly, monthly and daily basis. It is anticipated that in future plants with horticultural, medicinal and economic potential will be evaluated, selected, developed and, when feasible, also grown and marketed. A seedbank will also be established and operated to conserve genetic diversity in the form of seed and also to distribute seed for cultivation in other gardens and nurseries. A t the last annual plant sale at Kirstenbosch 595 different plant species were sold to the public, considerably more than the 28 different species which are offered in the majority of the nurseries in the Cape Town area. It follows that plants and flowers must be made more readily available to the public visiting botanic gardens, but it should be done in such a manner that commercial growers are not threatened.

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