Sunday 24 March 2013

Asia's largest cacti collection

This is the largest garden of cacti or cactus garden in the whole of Asia. It is also generally believed to be the largest outdoor landscaped turf of its kind in Asia.
Almost all the plants here grow in deserts. Yet, they have been grown here and some of them are highly ornamental. More than 3,500 such species are planted and they are a veritable delight and a visual treat.
Some of these plants have medicinal properties and they attract practitioners of  Ayurveda, Unani and other forms of medicine.
Covering an area of seven acres it had one of the most comprehensive collection of Indian succulents apart from cacti. This collection is not only the largest in the world and some of them extremely rare, but a few have already been declared as endangered.
This is the Cactus Garden which has been renamed as National Cactus and Succulent Botanical Garden and Research Centre of Chandigarh. The garden is in the heart of  Panchkula, a satellite town of Chandigarh.
A major crowd-puller, its variety of prickly plants and greens is stupendous. Many of the cactus that are planted here thrive in the deserts and it is a pleasure to watch them out here.
The garden has many cacti that flower once an year. Of course , there are the regular catci that flower only once in several years. The outdoor Cactus Garden has 25 raised ground features, three water bodies with water ways. On raised mounds, about 800 species of Cacti and Succulents have been naturalised.
The Garden has 272 species of genus Mammillaria and 160 species has been naturalized outdoor. The magnificent Aloe speciosa, Aloe ferox and several other exotic species can be seen here. Mamillarias, Astrophytum and Notocacti have been planted.
A Bonsai collection of succulent and non succulent plants has also been created. The garden has nine glass houses housing practically all the know genera of cactus. It has highly representative collections of Haworthias, Aloes and Gasterias.  
Just as Lalbagh in Bangalore hosts the annual flower shows every Independence and Republic Day, the Cactus garden hosts the annual Cactus show held in March which draws lakhs of people.
The well-laid out garden has three greenhouses that nurture rare and endangered cacti of India. A majority of the plants are gifts from across continents.
The garden was developed in 1987 and today it is the only centre in India to house the complete collection of Genus Caralluma, a cacti of Indian origin. The Echinocactus grusonii is mainly used as landscape plant and the Mexican species, Burseraa, can be found here. This cacti are like a tree. Apart from Burseraa, three species of Fouquiria spendens – Cactus from Arizona
and Adenia Venenata which is said to be collected from Yemen itself. A thick elongated cactus, Carnegia gigantea (Saguaro Cactus of Arizona), a slow growing plant, can attain height of 30 feet to 40 feet  
The entry fee is Rs. 10 per head.

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