Orto botanico di Pisa operated by the University of Pisa: The first university botanic garden in Europe, established in 1544 under botanist Luca Ghini, it was relocated in 1563 and again in 1591
A botanical garden or botanic garden[nb 1] is a garden dedicated to the collection, cultivation and display of a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names. It may contain specialist plant collections such as cacti and other succulent plants, herb gardens, plants from particular parts of the world, and so on; there may be greenhouses, shadehouses, again with special collections such as tropical plants, alpine plants, or other exotic plants. Visitor services at a botanical garden might include tours, educational displays, art exhibitions, book rooms, open-air theatrical and musical performances, and other entertainment.
Botanical gardens are often run by universities or other scientific research organizations, and often have associated herbaria and research programmes in plant taxonomy or some other aspect of botanical science. In principle, their role is to maintain documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display, and education, although this will depend on the resources available and the special interests pursued at each particular garden.
The origin of modern botanical gardens is generally traced to the appointment of professors of botany to the medical faculties of universities in 16th century Renaissance Italy, which also entailed the curation of a medicinal garden. However, the objectives, content, and audience of today’s botanic gardens more closely resembles that of the grandiose gardens of antiquity and the educational garden of Theophrastus in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.[1