Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Penang Botanic Gardens

The Penang Botanic Gardens which are also known as the Waterfall Gardens because of a cascading waterfall located close by constitute a heavenly public park in George Town, the capital city of Penang.

The gardens date back to the British colonial era in Penang, and were founded by Charles Curtis of the Gardens and Forest Department in1884. The gardens were founded on a former quarry site. An avid plant lover, Charles Curtis served as the first curator of the gardens and worked tirelessly to convert the dusty quarry site into the verdant oasis it is today. The gardens, besides serving as an immensely popular recreational site in Penang also serve as a center for botanical conservation, education and training and play an important role in the field of horticultural and landscape development.

The Penang Botanic gardens offer sightings of various native Malaysian trees like the Cannon Ball Tree, the Senkuang Tree(wood from this tree is used to make furniture in Malaysia), the Pinang Palm tree(the island of Penang is named after this tree) and exotic plants like the Black Lily(known for its inky-purple blooms), the Slipper Orchid and the much loved ginger plant which exists in various colors. The sparkling waterfalls, after which the gardens are named, are also visible from within the garden.

The lush Penang Botanic Gardens also host various forms of native fauna like long-tailed Macaques, leaf monkeys, giant black squirrels and many insects and butterflies. Visitors to the garden, are however, advised not to feed the monkeys resident in the garden. They are also advised not to munch on eats while exploring the gardens for the smell of food attracts the monkeys who can get quite violent as they attempt to snatch food from visitors. Visitors are also advised not to get intimidated, if they chance on a primate in the garden but to quietly walk away and not to aggravate the monkeys.

The management of the Penang Botanic Gardens offers periodic guided tours of its premises for visitors.

Attractions within the Penang Botanic Gardens

Aside from the abundant native flora and fauna easily visible in the gardens, this green lung also hosts several specially constructed attractions like:-

The Herbarium

The Herbarium is not ordinarily open to the public and special permission has to be acquired if you wish to visit the structure. The herbarium hosts a collection of preserved and dried plants and essentially serves as a destination for scientific research.

Plant Houses and collections

The many plants of the Penang Botanical gardens are housed in several, specially arranged collections like the Fern House, the Aroid Walkway, Orchidarium, the Palm Collection, the Perdana Conservatory, the Cactus House, the Bromeliad and Begonia house, Sun Rockery, the Herba garden and the Formal Garden.

The leafy Penang Botanic Gardens are definitely worth a visit on any trip to Pilau Pinang.

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