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SSouth Africa's botanical gardens are considered by many to be amongst the best in the world, especially in terms of floral diversity and the conservation of endangered indigenous plants. The national botanical gardens are managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).
The most famous of them all are the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, which is not only the largest but also the most popular, with an estimated 700 000 visitors per year. These gardens are home to a wide variety of flora, but specialises in the plants of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
The king protea, South Africa’s national flower, and many other examples of Cape fynbos are cultivated at the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, located an hour outside Cape Town, near the coastal playground of Hermanus.
Johannesburg has 2 botanical gardens - the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens and the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens, managed by Johannesburg City Parks. The former boasts one of the largest collections of lithops in the world and is home to over 230 species of birds, reptiles and mammals.
In nearby Pretoria (sometimes referred to as Tshwane), the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens are a popular spot with locals for picnics and open-air concerts, and it’s home to the largest herbarium in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Lowveld National Botanical Gardens in Mbombela (Nelspruit) are home to the largest collection of ancient cycads in the world, a man-made rain forest, and a great variety of evergreen shrubs watered by the Nels and Crocodile rivers that run through the garden.
The KwaZulu-Natal Botanical Gardens in Pietermaritzburg focus on the conservation of plants from the eastern region of South Africa, while the Durban Botanical Gardens, managed by the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust, are renowned for its huge orchid house.
And these are just some of the bigger and better-known botanical gardens in South Africa. There are many smaller - but just as beautiful and colourful - botanical gardens dotted around the country just waiting for you to explore.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
South African National Biodiversity Institute
Tel: +27 (0)12 843 5000
- South African National Biodiversity Institute
- Botanical Society of South Africa
- National Botanical Institute
- Johannesburg Botanical Gardens
- Durban Botanical Gardens