Seychelles National Botanical Gardens
Seychelles National Botanical Gardens
To get a good dose of the rich nature of Seychelles, a visit to the Botanical Garden on Mahé is a must! An hour’s walk through small gardens where endemic trees, flowers, ornamental plants, palms, turtles, and a serenity that adds to the magic of the place.
At the entrance, the palm tree avenue gives an idea of the richness of this green space located in Mon Fleuri, south of Victoria.
A haven of tranquillity founded by Rivaltz Dupont, a Mauritian agronomist with a passion for exotic plants. In the beginning, it was only a garden for the acclimatization of plants imported by the agronomist, but as time went by, the garden became a park of discovery and a place to walk for all visitors. The Victoria Botanic Gardens is both an ornamental garden with its bits of equatorial forest, its ornamental plant garden, and its granite blocks.
Coco de Mer
The palm trees dominate the landscape with their majesty: the male or female coco de Mer, unique to Seychelles, the palm tree which can reach up to 30 meters in height, the leafy latanier whose leaves are used to cover traditional huts. In front of the information kiosk, impressive trees such as the breadfruit, the pink cassia, the cinnamon tree, or the kapotier are the focus of attention.
A tropical forest with Coco de Mer Palmtrees can be discovered on Praslin island at the Valle de Mai.
A little further on, the tribute to the founder Dupont is paid by a monument that borders on ornamental shrubs with colorful varieties such as the hibiscus, the frangipani, or the ylang-ylang.
On the other side of the central aisle, it is an invitation into the world of the giant Aldabra tortoise and unlike the specimens on display in the Natural History Museum, these are alive and well and are carrying their age cheerfully even after centuries!
Leaving the turtle enclosure, one is invaded by the orchid garden with its vanilla plants, its straw orchid in the tail, or the giant orchid, which as its name indicates, can produce stems up to 3 meters high.
At the Botanical Garden’s nursery, the gardener is busy introducing you to his protégés; the Venezuelan rose, a tree with red flowers, the mahogany, a tall tree whose wood will be used to make houses or furniture in a few decades.
The garden then extends into a beautiful forest where the walk is peaceful with the scent of several essences. The immense takamaka trees protect so many beaches in Seychelles from erosion, the imposing multiplied, or the vacoas, an endemic species of the Seychelles whose foliage shape is very characteristic.
And along the way, the attentive visitor can also meet the sky travelers, the colorful birds that have made the garden their home for a very long time. With a bit of luck, the visitor may spot the beautiful blue pigeon, turtle doves, boisterous kingfishers, or the kestrel with its shrill, repeated cry that never goes unnoticed.
The newest attraction, an orchid house, contains a collection of colourful orchids. You will see native varieties that bloom in the wild.
Guangzhou Chinese Garden
Opened in December 2016, the Guangzhou Garden is situated on a small hill in the western area of the garden and features the main structures of a Chinese city. Featuring a sculpture of the Five Rams, which, as per Chinese belief, carry good wishes for the wellbeing of the country and the harmonic life of humankind. The garden, which covers one hectare of ground, also showcases plants from Guangzhou, planted together with plants from Seychelles. These include bamboo, orchids, and the kapok tree, also commonly known as the red kapok or hero tree.
A garden of Indian diversity, which symbolise the cultural links between Seychelles and India, is a new facility that will soon open at the Seychelles Botanic Gardens. The garden was inaugurated as part of the Seychelles India Day activities organised by the Indian Association in Seychelles.
“The garden showcase plants and various items of artifacts from the Indian states that have a direct link to the people of Seychelles,” said National Botanical Gardens Foundation executive director Raymond Brioche.
The Cannonball tree is one of the most eye-catching exotic plants found in the gardens, so named because not only are the fruits as large, round, and heavy as their namesakes, but they often fall to the ground with loud and explosive noises. The cannonball tree is thought to have originated in South America, India, and the Caribbean islands. This is an unusual tree with flowers and fruits growing along the trunk. The fruit has an unpleasant odor and can be used as an insect repellent simply by rubbing it against the skin or clothing.
Endemic spice plants of Seychelles
In addition to the palm trees, there are spice plants and fruit trees to admire, similar to those in the Mauritius Botanical Gardens. Most of them grow only in Seychelles.
Lotus blossom Pond
You should definitely have a look at the pond with the many blooming lotus flowers.
You can marvel at the giant tortoises from Aldabra Atoll. These are true methuselahs with more than 150 years on their shells. Or cute flying foxes that hang out and sleep in the big trees during the day.
Giant land tortoise
The presence of giant tortoises from the world heritage site of Aldabra adds to the gardens’ allure. They are one of the top attractions at the botanical garden because they allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the creatures that live to be very old. The tortoises are housed in an enclosure dedicated to Seychelles’ oldest inhabitants. These magnificent creatures, which can live up to 100 years, populated our islands long before the first settlers arrived.
Pond with terrapins
The garden also houses a collection of “torti soupap”, or terrapins. These dull-colored turtles are thought to have been introduced from Africa and Madagascar. Take your time at their pond to see them emerge from beneath their shell, as these small creatures are known for their camouflage. They can be difficult to distinguish from other pond features, particularly the stones.
The decision to establish a botanical garden in Seychelles was taken by the administration of the archipelago on 3 March 1900. It was hoped that this would support farmers in their work and encourage them to cultivate new plants. The background to this was the dependence of the Seychelles economy on vanilla cultivation and coconut products.
The botanical garden was thus in the tradition of the “Jardin du Roi“, which had already been established elsewhere in the south of Mahé during the French rule and had pursued similar goals. The Mauritian-born botanist and agricultural expert Paul Evenor Rivalz Dupont was entrusted with the execution and management of the garden. After his appointment as Curator of the Botanic Garden, Dupont began laying out the garden with six workers on 4 February 1901.
Dupont was also Curator of Crown Lands and responsible for the Seychelles palm forests on Praslin and Curieuse. He brought a large number of tropical plants from all over the world to Seychelles from his numerous travels, which today form the basis of the garden’s biodiversity. In 1935 Dupont returned to Mauritius, where he died on 20 January 1938 at the age of 67. In 1956, the British royal couple visited Seychelles.
On the occasion of this visit, Prince Phillip planted a Seychelles palm tree, which is one of the few to bear fruit outside its natural habitat. After the independence of Seychelles, the organisation of the park management developed into today’s Ministry of Environment, which also has its headquarters on the edge of the grounds.
Originally a botanical station, the garden is now a park and one of the most important tourist attractions on the island of Mahé. The original task of protecting species has now been expanded to include training in landscape planning, environmental protection, and ecotourism.
- The Botanical Gardens is at Mont Fleury Road and can be reached by foot or car from downtown Victoria; the walk takes about 20 minutes.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 08.00am – 5.00pm
- Entry fee from: 150 SCR