Photo Courtesy: YourStory.com
If you’re a succulent-lover and a passionate tourist at the same time, you’d love to watch one of the largest collections of succulents and cacti in the world named Sukkulenten Sammlung (‘the succulent plant collection’). Located in the lovely city of Zurich on the banks of Zurich See (Lake Zurich) in the form of seven greenhouses, this succulent museum has been one of Zurich’s outstanding features since 1931 and boasts of having more than 20,000 plants from 78 families and 6,500 species of water-storing plants called succulents and cacti. This museum is a great example of the diversity of nature and the power of human collaboration.
A century ago, a cactus lover, Jakob Gasser had a collection of cacti which was later acquired by a store owner Julius Brann Gassersche. In 1929, Gassersche gifted the collection to the city of Zurich. It consisted of around 1,500 plants in the beginning, and today it’s one of the world’s biggest collections of succulent plants.
The arboretum was opened to public in 1931. Since then it’s educating public as well as researchers on the diversity of succulents and their power to adjust to an array of habitats.
Not only tourists, nature lovers and children are attracted towards the arboretum, but also scientists and educators who run educational projects and outreach here. An ongoing project named “Green on the building: How plants conquer space” run by the museum explains the climbing, crawling and even flying activities of plants and seeds. An association named Förderverein der Sukkulenten-Sammlung Zürich supports the collection’s educational projects since 1996.
The Förderverein publishes an annual magazine, a newsletter and many other publications to impart information on succulent plants. Some of these are even available as PDFs. There is also a specialized reading library of books and research publications in the arboretum.
The Förderverein’s partners include the International Society of Notocactus Friends, Swiss Cactus Society and botanical gardens in cities like Berne, Basel, Lausanne and Geneva.
The motto of the arboretum is Experience, Discover, Understand.
For revenue generation, plant seeds are sold. The arboretum also runs a paid membership program for special previews, behind-the-scenes insights, exclusive events, gifts of seeds and visits to other nature destinations, which include the San Pancrazio island gardens on Lake Maggiore, between Italy and Switzerland.
The arboretum also organizes special activities like ‘The tour with the gardener’s daughter Sara Dorn’ which is meant for children.
An annual cactus market is also organized. Even international trips are arranged to study cacti in countries like Madagascar.
Associations like the Latin American and Caribbean Society of Cactaceae and Other Succulents (SLCCS), International Organisation for Succulent Plant Study (IOS) and others support research activities of the arboretum. The museum also organized the first International Congress of Succulent Researchers in 1950.
It’s interesting to note that although Switzerland is not exactly an arid country, this collection includes several plaints from arid locations. However, Switzerland does neither even grow cocoa plants, yet it’s a major exporter of chocolate. So, you can see how creativity and imagination can make unimaginable things happen!
So, have you started planning your next vacation to Zurich to visit the Sukkulenten Sammlung?