Museo Botanico, Orto Botanico e Herbarium dell'Università di Siena

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Italy - Toscana - Siena

Institution Code: SIENA

BGCI Member: Yes

Main Address:
Museo Botanico, Orto Botanico e Herbarium dell'Università di Siena
Via Pier Andrea Mattioli 4
Toscana 53100 Italy

Telephone: +39 0577 232075/7
Fax: +39 0577 232860
Primary Email:

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Luca Bini
    Curator's Name: Paolo Castagnini
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Paolo Castagnini
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 7
    Educational Staff Number: 2
    Research Staff Number:
    Administration Staff Number:

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: Private: No
    Status: State: Yes
    Status: Educational: Yes
    Status: Municipal: No
    Status: Satellite: No
    Status: Trust: No
  • Date founded: 1856
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 1 Hectares
  • Total Area: 3 Hectares
    Latitude: 43.3078
    Longitude: 11.3291
    Altitude: 350.00 Metres

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: Yes
    Herbarium: Number of Specimens: 95000
    Arboretum: No
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: No
    Seed Bank: No
    Published Plant Catalogue: No
    Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: No
    Retail Outlet: Shop: No
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: No
    Disabled access: No
  • Number of Visitors: 5000

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 2500
    Cultivation Taxa Num: 1200
  • Special Collections:THE SCHOOL
    Then we enter in the “School”, on artificial terraces, where angiosperm herbs and small shrubs are gathered in systematic order. Many of them are officinal plants, from which drugs are extracted for pharmacy, distillery, perfumes and culinary use. Beds, marked by letters and delimited by bricks, hold species belonging to botanically similar families

    This part comprehends the gymnosperm compartment, the outdoor exotic trees and the typical vegetation formations of central southern Tuscany, divided according to altitudes:
    • Base belt. This is the horizon of the sclerophyllous Mediterranean evergreens, characterized by hot and dry summers to mild and rather rainy intermediate season. Two consequences of these conditions are the lack of winter dormancy which increases southwards and mcrophyllia, reduction of the leaves to avoid excessive transpiration. Examples of this vegetation are cork oak (Quercus suber), ilex, heather, Arbutus unedo with edible fruits, etc.
    • Hill belt. In this belt dry conditions decrease and rainfall is mainly concentrated in between seasons. The plants are mainly deciduous and fond of sun: deciduous oaks (Quercus pubescens, Quercus cerris), maples, hornbeams, meddlers, shrubs like hollies (Ilex aquifolium).
    • Mountain belt. This horizon is characterized by cool and moist climate; summers are mild, winter are harsh and often snowy. Forests of broad-leaved heliophilous give way to deciduous shade lovers (beech, chestnut, ecc.) and evergreen conifers: (spruce, silver fir)

    • Old greenhouse. Built in the late 1800’s in front of the round “banana” pond, it shelters exotics from the Amazon, Africa and Pacific islands. That is the belt of the Equator, hot and humid with abundant rainfall lasting 8-9 months and even more. Beneath the big trees of this rain forest a huge number of species with the strangest shape can be found, especially Orchidaceae or Bromeliaceae families, and many specie or ornamental plants (Anthurium, Pothos, Sanseveria, etc.). Many are epiphytes – they live on tree trunks and branches and so in the greenhouse they hang in baskets from the ceiling: the most important example are carnivorous plants like Nepenthes, which draws insects and spiders with a particular scent and “eat” them mainly for restoring nitrum resources – others are climbing, others grow on the rich humus continuously produced by the forest.
    • Testing greenhouse. It shelters plants used for experiments of The Department: Nicotiana tabacum L., Solanum sppl., Cucurbita sppl., Inula sppl. It cannot be visited.
    • greenhouse.. Built around the 70’s and enlarged in the 80’s, it is near the cypress alley and it shelters plants from a warmer climate in pots in the first half, and plants from desert and semi-desert zones in the other half. The first ones spend the winter inside and in summer they are carried outside; very interesting the Ficus collection. The second half of the warm-house represents the desert environment, characterized by long dry periods with rather regular but short and intense rainfall. The plants of this zone, also called succulents, have adapted by metamorphism, the functional transformation of organs: stems and leaves can swell, becoming fleshy and mucilaginous by stocking water. To reduce evaporation the leaf surface diminishes or is transformed into thorns. Transpiration is also limited by hair or a thick waxy coating. In addition they are provided with a deep or superficial but very branched root apparatus. Cactaceae and Agavaceae are the prevalent families of the American sector on the right, while richer and varied are the African succulents on the left, with Aloe compartment and Euphorbia genus, with its milky juice which is often irritating and toxic. The most striking example are the Lithops: these plants have no stems or trunk but only two fleshy leaves. They plunge in the ground and their colour suits the substratum on which they grow. Due to this mimicry they are known as “living stones”.
    • Citrus glasshouse. Built in 1964, it shelters the citrus collection and other less demanding exotics during the winter, like crane’s bill collection (Pelargonium sppl.) and white calla collection (Zantedeschia aetiopica Spr.).

    It shelters indigenous plants from southern Tuscany, which live in hard soil situations: rocky areas, degraded woodlands, road slopes and neglected quarries. Three soil types are represented: limestone, serpentine and sandstone. Here we find mainly shrubs and herbs, because these areas don’t allow trees to grow up because of the hardness of soil and the scarcity of water.

    A rocky wall from which water drips and a brook which flows into a little pond have been built to represent damp environment vegetation. Here important and rare botanical species are cultivated like the fern Osmunda regalis L., ferns belonging to the Asplenium, Phyllitis and Polypodium genera (indigenous Pteridophytae), Erythronium dens-canis L.-L.R. e Rorippa anphibia (L.) Besser. In this part of the garden we can see plants that grow in marshy areas and along streams (hygrophytes) or strictly aquatics (hydrophytes). The morphological structure of the hydrophytes depends on whether they are totally underwater or partially floating. In two pools below the pond are the particular collection of Nymphaea alba L. from the Lago di Montepulciano (SI), where it was in danger of extinction, and vases of Azolla filiculoides, an exotic little aquatic plant.

    The zone down to Siena’s 14th century walls is called “podere” and it is similar to the classic Tuscan landscape. Here vines, olives, ancient and modern cultivars of fruit trees are cultivated. A part of the “podere” is also used for experiments of the University Department.
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    Invasive Species Policy: No
    ABS Policy: No
    Plant Collection Policy: No

Conservation Programmes

  • Conservation Programme: No
    Medicinal Plant Programme: No
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: No
    Reintroduction Programme: Yes

Research Programmes

  • Biotechnology: No
    Plant Breeding: No
    Conservation - Biology: Yes
    Conservation - Genetics: Yes
    Data Management Systems and Information Technology: Yes
    Ecology: Yes
    Ecosystem Conservation: Yes
    Education: Yes
    Ethnobotany: No
    Exploration: No
    Floristics: Yes
    Horticulture: Yes
    Invasive Species Biology and Control: No
    Molecular Genetics: Yes
    Pollination Biology: Yes
    Restoration Ecology: No
    Seed/Spore Biology: Yes
    Systematics and Taxonomy: No
    Sustainability: No
    Pharmacology: No
    Agriculture: No
    Land Restoration: No
    Urban Environments: No

Education Programmes

  • Visitor/Education Centre: Yes
    Education Signs in Garden: Yes
    Public Lectures/Talks: No
    Education Booklets/Leaflets: Yes
    Guided Tours: Yes
    Permanent Public Displays: Yes
    Special Exhibitions: Yes
    Courses for School Children: Yes
    Courses for University/College Students: Yes
    Courses for General Public: No
    Education Programme: Yes