CARSIANA Giardino Botanico - Botani?ni Vrt

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Italy - Friuli Venezia Giulia - Trieste

Institution Code: CARS

International Agenda Registration: No

BGCI Member: No

About the CARSIANA Giardino Botanico - Botani?ni Vrt

The Carsiana Botanical Garden is located within a doline or sinkhole in the municipality of Sgonico-Zgonik and occupies an area of 6,000 m2 and plays host to c. 600 plant species found in the Karst. It was founded in 1964 as a private initiative by a group of enthusiastic local botanists including Dr Gianfranco Gioitti, Dr. Stanislao Budin and Professor Livio Poldini. The Province of Trieste began its cooperation with the project in 1972 and the garden opened to the public on 20th May 1978. The Province of Trieste bought the property in 2002 and since June 2011 the garden has been managed by the Rogos Cooperative, based in Doberdò del Lago - Doberdob in the Province of Gorizia.

Along the footpaths in the garden the visitor can get to now the main karstic environments such as karstic scrubland, open dry grassland and its sea-cliffs which have been carefully reconstructed taking advantage of the microclimatic conditions and the geomorphology that the site offers. The placement of the species does not follow a systematic order as each plant is placed within its own natural habitat that has been carefully recreated to mimic its ecological characteristics.

Map taken from: Poldini L., Gioitti G., Martini F. and Budin S., 1980.

Introduzione alla flora e alla vegetazione del Carso ” Ed. Lint Trieste.

Main Address:
CARSIANA Giardino Botanico - Botani?ni Vrt
Sgonico-Zgonik 55, 34010 Sgonico-Zgonik (TS)
Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy

Telephone: +39 333 4056800
Primary Email:

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: -
    Curator's Name: Paul Tout
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Tina Klanjšček
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 4
    Educational Staff Number: 4
    Research Staff Number:
    Administration Staff Number: 1

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: Private: No
    Status: State: No
    Status: Educational: Yes
    Status: Municipal: Yes
    Status: Satellite: No
    Status: Trust: No
  • Date founded: 1964
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 1 Hectares
  • Landscaped Area: No
  • Total Area: 1 Hectares
    Latitude: 45.7370
    Longitude: 13.7492
    Annual Rainfall: 1000 mm
    Altitude: 250.00 Metres

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: No
    Arboretum: No
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: No
    Seed Bank: No
    Published Plant Catalogue: No
    Computer Plant Record System: No
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: No
    Retail Outlet: Shop: No
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: No
    Disabled access: No
  • Number of Visitors: 2500
    Number of Volunteers: 10

Plant Collections

  • Cultivation Taxa Num: 600
  • Special Collections:

    Moving around Carsiana in a clockwise direction the visitor encounters the following habitats:

    KARSTIC SCRUB is the most widespread habitat in the Karst uplands where it rapidly became established in the years following the Second World War when the practice of grazing was abandoned. The Hop Hornbeam Ostrya carpinifolia and the Manna or Flowering Ash Fraxinus ornus are the two most important tree species and are soon joined in the succession by Downy Oak Quercus pubescens . The habitat is that of light scrubland with plenty of light in which the shrub layer is a rich mix of Smoke -bush Cotinus coggygria, European Cornel or Cornelian Cherry Cornus mas and the St. Lucy Cherry Prunus mahaleb, whilst the field layer is dominated by Autumn Moor-grass Sesleria autumnalis together with Wild Peony Paeonia officinalis, Narrow -leaved Asparagus Asparagus tenuifolius, Istrian Hellebore Helleborus istriacus, the Mercury Mercurialis ovata and False (or White) Dittany Dictamnus albus .

    THE SCREES , made up of limestone rubble are characteristic of some parts of the Karst. The sloping unstable ground, lacking a developed soil, together with a lack of water and nutrients and intense exposure to atmospheric agents are its main features and the herbaceous species found here have very deep root system to enable them to obtain water; their leaves have a reduced surface area and the plants themselves a prostrate character to reduce transpiration. The karstic screes are host to botanical rarities such as the endemic fescue Festuca spectabilis subsp. carniolica, Drypis spinosa subsp. jacquiniana and the buckler-mustard Biscutella laevigata subsp. Ispidissima , impressive plants such as the Pyramidal Bellflower Campanula pyramidalis and less garish but nonetheless interesting ones such as Shining Bedstraw Galium lucidum , the Common Houseleek Sempervivum tectorum and the endemic Illyrian broom Genista holopetala.

    THE WOOD In ancient times the Karst was covered in an oak forest that, following deforestation and grazing carried out for centuries, were gradually destroyed. Just a few fragments of this ancient forest now survive such as those in Val Rosandra and on Monte Lanaro. Here the canopy is dominated by Sessile Oaks Quercus petraea and the field layer by Autumn Moor-grass Sesleria autumnalis .

    DRY GRASSLAND , here called landa carsica (Italian), or gmajna (Slovene) , was created by centuries of grazing pressure by sheep and goats on deforested areas, a process that seems to have begun during the Bronze Age (c. 5,500- 3,200 years ago) with the arrival of pastoralists in the Karst. In these arid grasslands many endemic species can be found such as the tormentil Potentilla tommasiniana or the spring-flowering gentian Gentiana primaticcia but the main elements supportino the structure of the dry grassland are the Rock Knapweed Centaurea rupestris and the Dwarf Sedge Carex humilis . These are species able to survive in arid conditions with low soil. A host of other species are also in flower between March and August including the Crested Kanpweed Centaurea cristata , the Illyrian Iris Iris illyrica and the Triestine Gentian Gentiana tergestina . Other species present in the grassland are the thistle Jurinea mollis, the goldendrop Onosma javorkae and the Mountain Pasque Flower Pulsatilla montana . The grassy sward is dominated by Carex humilis but the Steppe-grass Stipa eriocaulis is also present.

    THE COASTAL CLIFFS The south-facing nature of the northern slop of the garden has allowed it to be planted up with some of the species that characterise the coastal strip of the Karst within the province of Trieste where the vegetation is characterised by Mediterranean scrub and woodland of which the Evergreen or Holm Oak Quercus ilex and other sclerophyllous evergreens such as the Bay Tree Laurus nobilis, the Broad-leaved Phillyrea Phillyrea latifolia, Laurustinus Viburnum tinus, Wild Madder Rubia peregrina and the Etruscan Honeysuckle Lonicera etrusca . The coastal vegetation also includes showy species such as the Pyramidal Bellflower Campanula pyramidalis and Wulfen's Spurge Euphorbia wulfenii as well as aromatic and / or spiny species such as the Common Sage Salvia officinalis, the Turpentine Tree Pistacia terebinthus, Myrtle Myrtus communis, Christ's Thorn Paliurus spinacristi and Wild Asparagus Asparagus acutifolius.

    PONDS IN THE KARST One of the unusual features of the the karstic environment is the almost complete absence of surface water. This is mainly due to the permeability of the rocky substrate which is full of fissures. The water therefore tends to run along underground streams leaving the surface without aquatic habitats. The ponds, small depressions in the ground in which the storage of water is favoured by the bringing in of clay were used for the watering of livestock and to provide water for local people. In the artificial ponds present at Carsiana the visitor can admire wetland species that are characteristic of these environments such as Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus and the Fen Ragwort Senecio paludosus that occupy the parts of the pond that are only periodically exposed. The banks of the pond, on the other hand, play host to the rushes Juncus inflexus and Juncus articulatus. In the deeper parts of the pond can bee seen those species with floating leale such as White Nymphaea alba and Yellow Water-lilies Nuphar lutea.

    THE UPLAND KARST The species gathered in this part of the garden are representative of the Karst hinterland which is higher and in which the cooler climate and greater rainfall permit the development of beech-woods. These conditions of coolness and high humidity are recreated along thegarden's southern edge using an interconnected system of little channels and pools, evaporation from which cools the upper layers of soil allowing species such as the Hairy Alpenrose Rhododendron hirsutum , the Dwarf Alpenrose Rhodotamnus chamaecistus, Mountain Avens Dryas octopetala, Carniolan Primrose Primula carniolica and the Henbane Bell Scopolia carniolica.

    THE DOLINE WOODLAND The dolines (or sinkholes) are one of the most notable formations in karstic topography. These are enclosed depressions which are formed by the the dissolving of the calcareous rocks through the action of naturally acidic rainwater. The dolines are characterized by the phenomenon of temperature inversion, the temperature declining as one descends into the doline. Cool air remains in the bottom of the doline creating a microclimate that is cooler than the rest of the surrounding Karst. As a result the flora present includes species that are usually found at higher altitudes. The dominant trees here include the Common Hornbeam Carpinus betulus followed by the Hazel Corylus avellana, the Sessile Oak and the Small-leaved Lime or Linden Tilia cordata. The field layer includes the Asarabacca or European Wild Ginger , Asarum europaeum, the Dogstooth Violet Erythronium dens-canis , Spring Vetchling Lathyrus vernus , Wood Anemone Anemone nemorosa, Rue-leaved Isopyrum Isopyrum thalictroides and the Alpine Squill Scilla bifolia.

    THE KARSTIC POT-HOLE The bottom of the doline, on its southern edge, has a pot-hole, the entrance of which is broad and roughly circular (7m x7m) which allows the observe to examine the vertical walls that drop away to a ledge sticking out 17m below. The cavity continues winding its way down to a depth of 39.5 metres and characteristic species such as the Hart's-tongue Fern Phyllitis scolopendrium can be seen. Further into the pot-hole there are mosses, the most abundant of which is Thamnium alopecurum , whilst even further into the darkness there is just a patina of green and blue-green algae.

  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    Invasive Species Policy: No
    ABS Policy: No
    Plant Collection Policy: No

Conservation Programmes

Research Programmes

Education Programmes