Site Map |
World Travel |
Botanical Gardens of Mexico |
Reader Favorites: Headlines | Mexico Books | Mexico News | Plants | Red Mexicana
The botanical garden in Toluca is notable as much for its flora as for the magnificent art noveau building in which it is housed.
Completed in 1910 as part of Mexico's centennial celebrations, the former City of Toluca Market boasts 5,000 square meters of space holding 400 plant species within its walls. And the walls themselves are spectacular, comprised in part of 3,000 square meters of stained glass. The market itself, located right downtown on a large plaza below the state Congress and the Cathedral, was closed in 1975 and five years later the building was rededicated as the Cosmovitral-Jardin Botanico.
The stained glass, finished in 1990 by Leopoldo Flores Valdes, includes 28 different colors of glass and is considered one of the largest artworks in the world. In the glass, Flores Valdes sought to depict his interpretation of time, movement and the contradictory phenomena taking place in matter, from a cosmogonic perception.
Sunlight filters through into the garden producing rich hues of orange, blue and red. "The combination of plants and the stained glass is unique in the world," says Oliverio Jimenez, director of the gardens. Furthermore, the soothing sound of running water from fountains blends with classical music piped over the speakers to make a visit to the garden a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
Located 2,430 meters (7,970 feet) above sea level, the city of Toluca has a temperate climate with cold winters. While some plants find it difficult to survive in such weather, the greenhouse-like conditions prevailing inside the botanical garden allow tropical plants to survive. The aloe plant is a good example and varieties are scattered throughout the garden.
The more than 400 species of plants in the garden are varieties from Central and South America, as well as Africa and Asia, including Azucenas, roses, Mexican orchids, birds of paradise, as well as cypresses and ferns. Among species that stand out is the African bird of paradise, a gigantic plant native to Brazil and Guyana. Its foliage resembles the banana tree, but this particular specie can reach up to 10 meters high. Also from Brazil, the amaranth is notable for its multi-colored oval leaves fanning out from green, red and purple stems. These attractive plants/trees feature green leaves with yellow veins and purple leaves with red veins.
Another singular plant is the Chinese tulip, a shrub from tropical Asia.
The Santiaguito is a good representative of Mexico's floral variety. The rich deep-purple color of its leaves contrasts with its tiny pink flowers that only live for a day. The Araucaria, or Chile pine, is among the tallest trees in the garden. In proper conditions, this specie can reach 60 meters. It is named after the Araucos, an indigenous Chilean population whose diet is mostly based on the fruit of this tree. Information about most of the plants (roughly 70 percent) are found on plaques placed throughout the garden.
Details such as the plant's scientific and common names, their taxonomic features -- including division, class, order, family and genre -- a botanical description of the species, their place of origin and observations are provided. Carefully cultivated and tended to, the plants, trees, flowers and shrubs thrive in the greenhouse-like environment.
Japanese explorer and botanist Eizi Matuda is honored with a bust and a plaque in the middle of the garden. Matuda arrived in Mexico in 1922 and was employed by the State of Mexico for 28 years. He established the state's herbarium, a monumental piece of work featuring more than 6,000 indigenous plants which he discovered, identified and classified.
Blanca Robleda de Buckley is a health and culture reporter based in Mexico City.
Central America |
Learn Spanish | Mexico | Media | Site Map | South America | World Travel | Updates