We started our day by entering the Flower Dome and instantly got inspired by thousands of magnificent flowers and plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions
in this cooled conservatory.
Entering a world of perpetual spring, a place where unique plants bloom in an ever changing display of flowers. Discovered plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions and more!
And now, get ready to be amazed by nature!
The Cool-Dry Conservatory
Step into the Flower Dome and you’ll be standing in awe of nature.
Spectacular and innovative in design, it is one of the icons of Bay South Garden.
The Flower Dome replicates the cool-dry climate of Mediterranean regions like South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy
Home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world, it showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments.
Stop and smell the flowers in the colorful changing displays of the Flower Field, which reflects different seasons, festivals and themes!
Enjoy a cooling and leisurely stroll through the Flower Dome and experience the eerie profile of the baobabs, surrounded by fascinating succulents.
At the same time, immerse yourself in the spectacular view of the Marina reservoir skyline, as you embark on your journey through the Mediterranean Basin, South West Australia, South Africa, Central Chile and California!
You’ll discover amazing plants and flowers from different corners of the globe, and you’ll be amazed by how different parts of the trees are used in daily lives across different cultures.
Baobabs and Bottle Trees
The African Baobab, weighing more than 32 tons, is the largest tree in the Flower Dome. This gigantic tree has many uses for its roots, hollow trunks, bark, wood, leaves, flowers and fruit, from building materials to food and medicine.
Flowering at night, this species is pollinated by fruit bats, while terrestrial mammals like baboons and elephants disperse its fruits
by passing the seeds through the digestive tract before germination.
Drunken Tree or Palo Borracho
Related to the Kapok Tree of the Brazilian Amazon and Western Africa, the Drunken Tree’s seeds are surrounded by smooth, light fibers that are usually collected to make pillows and cushions.
Take a closer look at their amazing round trunks that are used to store water, and their beautiful ivory-colored flowers, which are pollinated by hawk moths.
Originating from South-western Madagascar, the Ghost Tree is often cultivated at traditional tombs in local villages.
Despite being related to the edible Horse Radish Tree from India, its foliage, fruits
and seeds are not consumed locally. Some cultures claim to use its aromatic sap as medicine for coughs and colds.
Succulents are water-storing desert plants belonging to families such as Cacti, Aloes and Crassulas. Look closer and you’ll find that many of these species have sharp spines to protect themselves against animals which may eat their soft tissues.
A dense cover of blue or grey wax over the surface of their leaves and stems also helps protect them from desiccation and deflect excess UV light in the desert.
Stroll through the Succulent Garden and venture into the desert
without experiencing the heat!
Originating from the arid regions of Nambia, the Tree Grape has a distinctive swollen caudex that functions as a stem and root.
As the loss of foliage during drought is a common occurrence, the function of leaves and photosynthesis is taken up by the branches which are noticeably green.
A native of the Andes of Bolivia, this cactus has succulent stem, golden spined and a lateral wooly cephalium, which not only protects the flowers against desication but also pollinating bats from the spiny stems.
Century Plant of Maguey
The Maguey with rosette leaves, from Mexico and Central America, is monocarpic. That means it flowers once and the plant will then die.
To protect their juicy leaves from predators, some of the species have spines. In Mexico, the Blue Agave plant is harvested for tequila, which is distilled from its fermented sap.
Succulent Garden Seascape
Ever thought you would see fishes, sea urchins or coral reefs in the desert? Keep your eyes peeled for the under-the-sea scene as you drop by the Succulent Garden. See if you can spot the various sea creatures and remember to take a photo with them!
The Australian Garden is a fascinating showcase of plants that have adapted to survive long dry seasons and fires from two regions in Australia
– Western and South Australia. Some inland parts of south-western and south-eastern Australia, and the southern part of Queensland also have a cool-dry climate.
During the hot and dry months, some species have not only adapted to survive bushfires but even rely on the fire to aid their reproduction. Travel through the deserts of Australia and see the native floral in full bloom at the Australian Garden!
Queensland Bottle Tree
Native to Queensland, this tree has a dramatic tapering trunk, which together with the roots, functions as a water storage organ. The roots provide large quantities of drinking water, while the green stem performs photosynthesis even when the tree loses its leaves.
The Aborigines have been known to cut holes in the soft trunks to create artificial reservoirs. The starchy tissue of the stems and roots is often used and can be eaten, while the fibrous bark can be made into rope and twine for fishing nets.
Take a close look at this plant and try to see the resemblance of the flower buds to a kangaroo’s paw. This unique feature makes it a popular houseplant, resulting in the removal of Kangaroo’s Paw from its natural habitat. Normally found in Southern West Australia, this plant has a root sap that helps it survive extreme dry spells.
(This is not Marijuana!)
The Grass Tree grows slowly at about 1-2cm a year and has a lifespan of about 600 years. It flowers more prolifically when stimulated by bush-fires. Fire helps with leaf removal and produces ethylene gas, which ripens the fruit.
To mimic field conditions, the leaf-bases are often burnt away to expose the blackened trunk. The resin was once used by the Aborigines and early European settlers to make glue or varnish.
South African Garden
South Africa is home to an amazing number of exclusive or endemic species of plants, and here you will find “Fynbos” plants, which is “fine, delicate brush” in African. These species have needle-like leaves that form thickets of fire-prone, hard-leaf shrubs that grow in sandy, low-nutrient soil.
Many of the plants found in this vegetation have small, dark leaves covered in a waxy outer layer that helps them to retain moisture. Explore the sea of colorful flowers, evergreen shrubs, succulents, and bulbs as your journey continues through the South African landscape.
King Sugar Bush
The King Sugar Bush is often used for flower arrangements, with its leaves used to make tea. Its thick underground stems contain many dormant buds that will produce new growth even after a fire.
There are very few left in the wild due to the fragile environment they live in. These days, they are mostly cultivated in greenhouses or nurseries. The King Protea or Giant Protea, from the same family is the national flower of South Africa.
Bird of Paradise
With a striking resemblance to a bird with a turf of orange and blue feathers on its head, the Bird of Paradise has no trunk and forms a clump of leaves up to 2 meters high. There is a yellow-flowered version of this species known as “Mandela’s Gold Strelitzia”, which was grown as a homage to the great South African leader.
Found in Africa and Madagascar, Aloes have succulent leaves with very thick epidermis and spiny edges that protect a soft, water storing mucilage. The mucilage found in Aloe Vera is widely used for everything from skin complaints to colds and coughs.
Many species are currently endangered through human disturbance to their habitat. Be awed by one of Africa’s tallest species, the Tree Aloe in the South African Garden.
South American Garden
This stunning garden will mesmerize you with exotic plants from Central Chile, on the west coast of South America and isolated from the rest of the continent by the Andes.
Wonder through the Chilean Garden to find some interesting spiny plants, such as the Monkey Puzzle Tree and the Puya from the dry rock outcrops in central Chile, or the stunning formation of large specimens of Chilean Wine Palm on the terrace.
Chilean Wine Palm
Once described by Charles Darwin as a “very ugly tree”, the Chilean Wine Palm is known as the “Incredible Hulk” due to its massive girth and height. There are multiple uses for different parts of this tree, as the seeds are edible and the leaves can be used to make baskets.
The sap is fermented into a palm wine or concentrated into sweet syrup for culinary use. This species is considered vulnerable by the IUCN and harvesting of palm sap is now limited under Chilean law.
Meet the Chilean Puya, a native of Central-eastern Chile, which can grow from sea level to 2000 meters. It’s an impressive rosette-forming plant that boasts big blooms with special perches for hummingbirds, the pollinators of its lime-green flowers.
In Chile, the young leaves are eaten as a vegetable, and the fiber found in mature leaves is used to make fish-nets, while the hollow, light stem is cut into segments and used as floaters for the nets.
Monkey Puzzle Tree
The national tree of Chile, the Monkey Puzzle Tree got its English name in England, when one of the first people to grow this plant coined the expression “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that!” in reference to the spiny branches of the tree.
Its trunk can reach 2.5 meters in diameter, with branches covered by thick, scale-like, prickly leaves. This tree is highly prized for its valuable wood and edible nuts that look like over sized pine nuts, with a flavour similar to Ginko seeds.
This species is considered vulnerable by IUCN, as its timber is exploited illegally and its habitat quality decreases.
Head up the stairs and be welcomed by the colorful “Chaparral” from the Californian Mediterranean region.
Comprising mostly shrubs and a few trees, surrounded by herbaceous perennial and annual flowers, these plants are affected by natural fires that occur from time to time.
Some of the plants also display aromatic, downy foliage to discourage herbivores from browsing on them. Take in the view from the top of the Californian Garden, which is also the highest Garden in the Flower Dome.
This shrub with its small, crenate leaves is related to the Chinese Jujuba Date. Its small blue flowers appear in masses for a beautiful visual treat, and it is also a very popular plant with bee-keepers.
Be enchanted by this pretty little plant. Related to the edible blueberries, this shrub develops into a beautiful twisted stem over time. This is complemented by small white and pink rounded flowers resembling little hanging lanterns.
The fruits are eaten by a variety of animals like raccoon, squirrels and birds and are a valuable source of nutrients during the dry season.
The Mediterranean Basin is one of the first places in the world to practise agriculture, with crops such as olives, figs, grapes, wheat and lentils. Its coastal location and climate makes it attractive for farming, recreation and urban development, which also threatens the natural habitats.
See if you can identify the some of the native Mediterranean plants such as the Stone Pine or Date Palm. Another type of Palm in this garden is the Canary Island Palm from the Canary Island that is also related to the Dragon Tree.
Finally, stop by the waterfront and admire the beautiful row of Italian Cypresses, which is reminiscent of Lake Como in Italy.
Grown in the Mediterranean for thousands of years, this coniferous species is known for its edible pine nuts that are used in the traditional “pesto” sauce from Italy.
It has a characteristic umbrella-like shape, with a short trunk and a broad and rounded crown and attractive reddish bark. Its large cones bear nuts covered by a thick shell that needs to be broken to get to the pine nuts.
The Cork Oak is a fire-resistant evergreen tree with a thick, insulating bark that regenerates after being harvested.
Its primary source is for cork wine bottle stoppers and other uses such as cork flooring. The species itself is abundant and not endangered, but with the arrival of synthetic wine stoppers, it is feared that cork oak landscapes will lose their significance and cease to be conserved.
This tree is native to the Canary Islands, Madeira and Cape Verde, and has a blood-red sap that was used by natives from the Canary Islands to mummify corpses. In Europe, it was also used as a colorant and anti-oxidant to protect tools.
Olives, figs, grapes, pomegranate, and many other crops are characteristic of the Mediterranean region. Grown for thousands of years, they form an important part of the region’s identity and heritage, unifying the culture of the very diverse countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea.
A photo in front of the magnificent thousand year old Olive Tree is a must before you leave the Olive Grove.
Marvel at the ancient Olive Trees in the Olive Grove. Some of these gnarled and twisted trees, estimated to be over a thousand years old, were moved from Spain, where their orchard was about to undergo development.
Cultivated for over 10 thousand years in the Mediterranean, Olive Trees are a highly versatile and valuable crop, providing fruit, oil and leaves that are used for food, medicine, cosmetics and fuel.
Common Fig or Turkish Fig
A native of Southeast Asia, the fig tree has been around for a very long time. It was taken to the Mediterranean before the discovery of the Americas.
This native of Iran was brought to Europe
by the Arabs
and is valued by many cultures for its beauty and uniqueness.
The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree are used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, dysentery and intestinal parasites.
Before you leave the Flower Dome, stop and learn about the life-cycle and pollination of the baobab and banksia trees or the role of animals in the plant eco-system on the multimedia screens.
Have hands-on fun playing with the interactive wall and discover how the little things we do affect nature!
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In the next upcoming post, we visit the Cloud Forest – so stay tuned for misty mountains with exotic flora & carnivorous plants!!
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