Since 1911, the University of Innsbruck has maintained the Innsbruck University Botanical Garden. This two hectare site is home to 5,000 species of plants from all over the world including rare and endangered varieties. This botanical garden groups plants together by both their country of origin as well as some other more novel modes of categorization.
For example, one section of the Innsbruck Botanical Garden contains plants that have medicinal and culinary uses. These plants are grouped by the active chemical substances they contain such as alkaloids and tannins. Poisonous plants are also a part of this collection, and this grouping system allows visitors an understanding of the plants that goes beyond their external morphology and includes an appreciation of their chemical similarities as well.
In another area of the Garden there are over 1,000 species of alpine plants. While the elevation of Innsbruck is only 575 meters, the city is located at the base of two mountains making it a suitable environment for cold weather specimens. Cold adapted plants are not the only residents, however. There is also a cactus garden with over 500 species and a succulent house with more than 550 plant species mainly from South Africa and South America.
One of the more unusual areas within the Innsbruck Botanical Garden is a touch and fragrance section. Here, visitors are invited to interact with the plants in a way not usually permitted at a botanical garden. Braille plant labels are provided so that guests with visual problems can interpret and enjoy the collection.
While the Garden is over 100 years old, modernization efforts were undertaken between 1948 and 1965 bringing both the collection and the infrastructure up to date. The Innsbruck Botanical Garden does not charge admission, except to the greenhouse areas, making this outstanding collection easily available to all.
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