National Botanic Gardens of Malawi
There are three National Botanic Gardens in Malawi: Zomba Botanic Garden in the south, Lilongwe Botanic Garden in central Malawi, and Mzuzu Botanic Garden in the northern region. Sir Alexander Whyte, who worked as a government botanist under the British administration, established Zomba Botanic Garden between 1891 and 1895. The garden served as an experimental garden for ornamentals and economic plants collected from the British Empire. Lilongwe and Mzuzu Botanic Gardens were established a century later, in 1989, as independent institutions, two years after the establishment of the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi. The Lilongwe and Mzuzu Gardens were established with the purpose of conserving regional flora.
The gardens serve as the following:
Systematic collections of the representatives of the major plant families, and the vegetation types of Malawi including indigenous and exotic plant species of both economic and medicinal value.
Conservation areas for threatened, endangered, endemic, and indigenous species of Malawi.
Environmental and educational facilities.
Testing grounds for introduced botanical materials in collaboration with other appropriate institutions.
Areas for the promotion of greater knowledge and expertise in horticulture.
Areas of public amenity and promenade.
Areas for carrying out research on the flora and vegetation of Malawi.
The living collections of the three gardens are at different stages of development. The living collection in Zomba Botanic Garden is diverse, owing to its existence of over 100 years. Mzuzu and Lilongwe Gardens have concentrated on ex situ conservation of flora specific to the surrounding areas. Because the living collections in the three gardens are so dissimilar, I describe them separately in this article.
of the Collections
The plant collections in Zomba, Lilongwe, and Mzuzu Botanic Gardens are a valuable resource. Time and money are put into training staff members to maintain these collections. The programme of work and maintenance cultural practices are documented, so that these are accessible to others who may want to use them. Our gardens are for posterity.
óby Lloyd Nkoloma
SABONET News 6.1: 22