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The Collection
Arboretum | Glasshouses | Rockeries | Perennials | Annuals | Marsh plants | Animals


Of the 4.7 hectares of the Botanical Garden’s total area, the greatest part is occupied by the arboretum, developed in the style of the English landscape garden, in which we grow woody plants (trees and shrubs) from various parts of the world.

The flower parterre with decorative herbaceous plants (annuals and perennials) and roses, in the western part of the Garden near the glasshouses, is constructed in the French style characterised by strict geometrical lines.

Indigenous plant species (representatives of the flora of Croatia) are grown in groups planned according to plant geography (rock gardens). 

Tropical and subtropical plants and plants needed for research work are grown in the greenhouses (a total of 14).

Marsh plants can be seen in the artificial lakes and pools on the parterre.

In the systematic field in the southeast part of the Garden we grow plants meant for students and for university lectures.  

The Arboretum

The park of the Botanical Garden has been laid out in the style of the English landscape garden, in which winding paths border smaller areas of irregular shape (a total of 53 plots or fields). In the park we grow trees and shrubs from various parts of the world – a total of about 1000 different taxa, distributed largely according to kinship. The woody plants in the park come on the whole from areas with a temperate continental climate, which have on the whole acclimatised successfully to the polluted air of the city-centre. A smaller number of the species planted are susceptible to very low winter temperatures (like the fig and laurel), and we protect them by piling dry leaves around them or maize stalks, or cover them with a special foil for protection against frost.  More sensitive woody plants from the warmer parts of the world are grown in pots, and during winter are put into premises in which the temperature never drops below zero centigrade (oranges, camellias, oleanders). Palms and some kinds of rubber plant and other tropical and subtropical woody species overwinter in the glasshouses, in which the temperature never drops below +5 °C or even +10 ºC, and only in the summer do we take them out into the open air.

Magnolia x soulangeana
Prunus serrulata
Malus floribunda

Callicarpa japonica Clerodendrum trichotomum: flower and fruit

Persian ironwood Conifer collection bald cypress Sophora japonica 'Pendula'
The Rock Gardens

The Botanical Garden of the FS is very well known for its valuable collection of plant species from the Croatian flora. In the Garden, we grow them in three rock gardens (three plant-geography groups): the karstic (K), the Mediterranean (M) and the sub-Mediterranean (SBM), together with certain plants from nearby countries. In order to be able to conserve our plant wealth, we have to know it well.  It is in this perhaps that the greatest role of our Botanical Garden lies. It should inform and instruct members of the public, and encourage them to look after, and not damage, the wild plants, which means, primarily, not picking them.  At every time of the year you can find attractive and interesting wild flowers in the garden; you will recognise some of them, because you have often seen them in nature, and have known them since your childhood; some of them will probably be new and unknown. In the large rock garden close to the main entrance we cultivate various decorative plants. You can observe some interesting plants in the small West European rock garden (ZEU), and Alpine species in the Alpine rock garden (A).


Degenia velebitica Helleborus atrorubens Anemone sylvestris
In the karstic rock garden, set up in 1927, we cultivate many interesting herbaceous and woody plants from the lowland and mountain regions of central and north-west   Croatia.
The Mediterranean rock garden (M) in the Garden was founded in 1954; in it species typical of the Croatian coastal region are cultivated. They belong to the following communities: dense evergreen shrub called maquis; low shrubs or garrigue; littoral grasslands; stone waste pastures and the sea coast. Most of the endemics of the rich Flora of Croatia inhabit precisely the coastal or Mediterranean zone.  The great biological diversity is in very large part the result of the Velebit mountains, that geographical barrier between the continental climate of the inland area and the Mediterranean climate of the Adriatic coastline.  Since the sharp Zagreb winter and the arid, hot summers do not suit many species from the Mediterranean region, some of the collection is located in the glasshouses.

Founded in 1965, the sub-Mediterranean rock garden is home to plants from regions with the mild influence of the Mediterranean region (plants from Mt Mosor and Mt Biokovo for instance).


Helleborus niger subsp. macranthus    Campanula poscharskyana Adonis vernalis
Croatian flora

In our little country a great number of different plant species grow, together constituting the flora of Croatia. According to our most up to date information, 5500 taxa of higher plants grow in Croatia. Considering the area of the country, this really is a great many.  The floras of much larger countries are less numerous than that of Croatia; in Spain, for example, there are 5048 taxa growing, in France 4630 and in Germany 3203. Whence the richness of our flora? Croatia is a distinctly southern European country, located at the borderline between the continental and the Mediterranean climates, and of the eastern and the western Mediterranean floras. As well as this, our area was, in periods of the greatest glaciation, mainly spared, and thus some members of the primeval flora, relicts, as they are called, have been preserved. The combination of a very diverse relief - high mountain massifs, karst poljes, river valleys and a highly indented coastline with its many islands has also helped to bring about the creation of a large number of taxa, among which the endemics account for almost ten percent. For this reason Croatia is one of the richest of European countries.

Perennial plants are basic to any garden, because once planted in a suitable place they do not require special care or attention. Some perennials live a longer time, flower more abundantly and are more resistant than others, and they are particularly valued by growers. In our Botanical Garden about a thousand taxa of decorative herbaceous perennials grow outdoors, not counting those in the warm glasshouses. Because of lack of space, alas, we have to grow many of them in the nursery area, which is inaccessible to visitors. However, you can see part of the collection in the flower parterre and by the lakes, and in several other small areas in the Garden.

Aquilegia 'Nora Barlow'

Rudbeckia 'Tetragloriosa'

Iris B.E. 'Gay Lord'


Only two years after the foundation of the Garden in 1891 work started on the building of the first glasshouses, for the sake of the cultivation of exotics. Today there are glasshouses with the following purposes: hothouses (winter temperature of about +20ºC) for the cultivation of tropical and subtropical plants; temperate glasshouses (about +10ºC) for palms; cool glasshouses (about +5ºC) for succulents and plants that are sensitive to frost; a quarantine glasshouse and propagation room for sowing seeds and the vegetative reproduction of plants, and two glasshouses for the cultivation of experimental plants.


In the hothouses we grow tropical and subtropical evergreen perennials that require a constant temperature in excess of +20ºC and a high ambient humidity (ca 90%). Apart from the many plants that you will recognise from the florist’s as potted houseplants (sansevierias, begonias, peperomias, bromeliads, crotons, dieffenbachias, philodendrons and so on), there are also several rarely cultivated but nevertheless well-known plants: vanilla, coffee, pepper, banana, ginger, sweet potato and so on.


Monstera deliciosa Vanilla planifolia: leaf and flower Amorphophallus titanum

Walls of glasshouses are inhabited by a very rare and beautiful maidenhair fern (Adi
antum capillus-veneris). We use the frond pinna of this fern as a Garden logo.

maidenhair fern: frond pinna (above) and fern fronds growing in the glasshouse (right)

In the temperate house (the highest of the glasshouses)  the palms and rubber plants spend the winter.  In this glasshouse the winter temperature never falls below +10°C
In the coldhouses (in winter the temperature in them is about +5°C) sub-tropical, tropical, Mediterranean and other sensitive woody plants overwinter.  In this glasshouse we keep a very interesting collection of succulents.

Euphorbia milii Arbutus unedo Caryota mitis
Marsh and pond plants

In the eastern part of the Garden there are two small artificial lakes, and west of the flower parterre there are ponds in which we grow plants that in nature grow in lakes, marshes and pools. Because of drainage and pollution of the habitats, many of the marsh plants all over the world have become rare and endangered. For this reason the wetland habitats in Croatia enjoy strict statutary protection.


Nymphaea alba

Nuphar lutea

Nelumbo nucifera


Annuals or biennials are the ornament of the Botanical Garden during spring, summer and autumn. Since there is indeed a very large choice of different species and varieties, we grow something different each year. However, because of lack of space, we have not given the annuals a special and permanent position; rather we tend to combine them with the perennials on the flower parterre, around the lake and around the glasshouses, and other buildings in the Garden.  We shall mention just a few species that we most often grow in the flower beds together with the perennials.


Myosotis 'Ultramarine'

Digitalis purpurea 'Excelsior'

Along with the many plant species, the Garden is a refuge to many animals. Some of them are permanent residents, while others are regular visitors.  The denizens of the pools and lakes (the little fish, frogs and turtles) are the most interesting to children, as are the green lizards that regularly bask in the sun on the rock gardens and alongside the glasshouses.
Some mammals too live in the Garden, mainly nocturnal species (bats, martens, hedgehogs and dormice), but the most numerous and most interesting (as well as most investigated) group is that of birds.  Although most visitors will notice mainly the sparrows and the blackbirds, more careful observation has revealed as many as 45 species of birds. Some of them are occasional visitors, and some of them nest in the Garden, some of them merely winter here, while some of them can be seen during the spring and autumn migrations, and some of the species have arrived by chance.

Cynthia cardui

Columba palumbus

Testudo hermanii top..

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last change: 10/10/2007
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