Photography by: Longwood Graduate Fellows
Welcomed by the ‘tropical water’, we landed in state capitol Rio de Jeneiro, the third stop of our entire journey. After breakfast at the hotel, the first year fellows headed to the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden with our two chaperones and our new local guide Gerardo. Gerardo (pronounced Herardo) is a transplanted Argentinian who has put deep roots into Rio and is a devoted Brazilian soccer fan. To our surprise, he also loved plants as much we do and he shared his plant knowledge with us during the tour.
In the garden, we met Thais Almeida, a curator who has been working at the garden for almost 10 years. She toured us around the garden. Rio BG was founded by King John in 1808 when he was Prince Regent. From Thais we learned that the garden has a collection of both Brazilian native plants and exotic flora from all over the world which include historical collections as well. We saw trees such as mango tree, jack fruits and some others from Asia. The famous palm tree allee along the main road shows the exotic view of the tropical region, some of them have been in the garden for more than a century, which is quite impressive. This garden is federally funded, but it has some problem with financial development which has negative effect on the collection.
Greenhouses are important in this area as well, including an orchid house and a bromeliad house. They have native living orchid collection and also species collection in their herbarium where we had a brief tour. They did very good interpretation of orchid with information like the name of orchids, the habitat of orchids and so on. Also, the bromeliad collection is very significant, starting with two pineapple plants in front of the Bremilliario.
After the Botanical Garden, we went to the national forest area which is adjacent with the garden. Covered with tall tress, the shade composed a natural umbrella where people can enjoy the cool air in summer. We ended our tour by stopping at the Chinese Vista, which is a great location to get a view of the city.
Thanks to Gerardo who gave us a great plant tour and shared many wonderful stories of Rio.