Lucca's botanical garden was founded in1820 by Maria Luisa Borbone as a means of conducting research and learning for the course of botany taught at the University, which she also founded.
During the XIX century, due to the influence of the successive directors in charge of the institution over the years, the garden became the centre for scientific research which gave a great contribution to the region and its knowledge of flowers.
One of the most active directors to do so was Benedetto Puccinelli, who took on the position from 1833 to 1850 and created a local flora demonstrating around 1500 species of seed-plants. Unfortunately, his premature death at the age of 42 did not allow him to publish the results of his research in the field of pteridology and mycology. Right from the start, the Botanic Garden was filled with numerous exotic species including many trees which were admired by the owners of the Grand villas and hence were diffused amongst the local gardens. Therefore, in newly built parks, you could find traditional species together with citron trees from the Lebanon, magnolia and sequoia, etc. As a result of the Second World War and the death of the 4th director Cesare Bicchi, all activities were suspended and only started up again in the 70's, when the collection was either redone or replanted from the previous collections and research and learning began once more. In the 80's, a Regional bank of germ plasm, coordinated by A.R.S.I.A. (the regional agency involved in the development and innovation of the agricultural sector) was set up, where the genetic heritage of various vegetables, cereal grains and feeds on the verge extinction in the region of Tuscany, were preserved. Since the beginning of 2001, the botanical garden has actively collaborated with "Murabilia", the amateur garden show which takes place on the walls of Lucca in September.
From the metal gate, the long pathway surrounded by trees and shrubs (the orchard) leads to a small lake. On the left, in the Eastern part of the garden, you can find the greenhouses, the library and the Hortus sanitatis.
On the right is the Western part of the garden where you can find a mound growing different species of vegetation, like those that can be found in the hills in many areas of Lucca (Monte pisano, Alpi Apuane, etc).
It represents the largest part of the garden and here you an find the most exotic trees and shrubs which were mainly introduced during the 800's. Amongst there is the majestic citron tree from the Lebanon which was planted in 1820 and to date has a berth of over six meters. There is also a fine example of sweet smelling olive tree, not forgetting of course the age-old Michelia tree which is also here.
The centre of the lake is dominated by a Southern cypress, a species which originated in the marshes of Florida. You can also find a small acid turbary were you can find rare Italian species being preserved. The most characteristic include the sundew, the Osmond, rose mallow and swamp euphorbium.
THE OTHER COLLECTIONS
The Hortus sanitatis is a large collection of medicinal species which come from various continents. In the two most impressive green-houses you can also find the succulent plants which include the numerous Cacti from America and Euphorbiaceous originating from the African regions. Finally, something that must be seen, is the collection of the spontaneous plants which are eaten in the province of Lucca.
L'Orto Botanico della Città di Lucca
Via del Giardino Botanico, 14
Tel.: +39 0583583086
Fax: +39 058356738