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orto botanico, Palermo ITALY

Originally the Gymnasium was the main office of the Schola Regia Botanice (School of Botany), the Herbarium, the library and the director's office. Two smaller buildings are located either side of the Gymnasium in perfect symmetry : the Calidarium and the Tepidarium (originally they housed plants from warm and temperate zones respectively). The garden is divided into several zones : linneian section, bioecological and geographic zone, experimental and research zone (research and practical application in industry), Engler's zone. Over time the gardens have benefitted from the development of a series of greenhouses : the serra Maria Carolina (a gift from Queen Maria Carolina of Austria), the greenhouse of succulents (plants from hot-arid zones), the experimental greenhouse (banana and papaya), the greenhouse of the region (plants of the warm-humid zones), the greenhouse for the preservation of succulents, the greenhouse of ferns. The Aquarium, a large round pool divided into 24 sections, hosts different varieties of aquatic flora. The modern Herbarium mediterraneum is accommodated within a few buildings adjacent to the gardens. The collection comprises the Erbario Siculo and the Erbario Generale of the Department of Botany, estimated to be around 50,000 and 200,000 specimens respectively. The main objective of the gene bank is the conservation ex situ, both short and long term, of all seeds endemic to the region, rare or endangered. Once they have been collected, the seeds are immediately treated and conserved in ampoules, all managed by the institution and available for exchange with others. The seeds are periodically tested for their propensity to germinate.

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