The Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh – Edinburgh, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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The Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh

One of the oldest scientific gardens in Britain, containing more than 13,302 plant species in its core collection. 


Founded in 1670 as a “physic garden” for the purpose of growing medicinal plants, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is, after Oxford’s, the oldest botanic gardens in Britain.

Nowadays, the RBGE is one of the largest botanic institutions as well, the herbarium housing about three million living specimens and preserved plants, a humongous core collection that represents at least one-half and possibly two-thirds of the world’s species of flora.

With its 72 acres of unusual landscapes and scenery, the RBGE was edified both as leisure gardens and for scientific and educational purposes. With botanical delights from the rock garden to Victorian glasshouses contain different zones such as temperate, ferns, cycads, alpine tufa house, orchids, and cryptogamic plants to the Chinese hillside dotted with pagodas, pond, and waterfalls, an afternoon spent strolling the vivid alleys of The Royal Botanic Garden will delight one’s mind as well as raise awareness of nature’s fragile biodiversity.

The Greenhouse also contains the Sabal Palm tree, which may be the oldest in the world at 200 years and counting. Sadly, due to a multi-million pound renovations, the palm tree had to be felled in 2021. However, the oldest living plant at the gardens is one of Britain’s biggest fossilized trees measuring nearly 35 feet (10.5 meters).  

Know Before You Go

Take one of the Lothian Buses 8, 23 or 27 to the East Gate on Inverleith Row.

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