The Botanical Garden is primarily dedicated to medicinal plants and has a peculiar history. Founded in 1964 by Professor Giordano Emilio Ghirardi, owner of the pharmaceutical company Simes la Cardioterapica, its main function was to host plant species of different origins. During that period, the Garden staff obtained the desired seeds from partners all over the world. They also cultivated and acclimated useful species even on a large scale and studied the properties of their active ingredients. When the founder passed away in 1991, the Botanical Garden was donated to the University of Milan. The Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences currently manages the Garden.
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A lot has been done to improve the facilities since 1991: the fence surrounding the Garden has been restored, an automatic irrigation system has been installed and a lawn has been sown on the plot dedicated to experimental cultivation.
A new greenhouse has been built for the cultivation of exotic species (i.e. Abrus precatorius, Carica papaya, Cerbera manghas, Coffea arabica, Strophanthus capensis, Thevetia nerifolia), Citrus, and other sensitive species.
Due to the lake’s relatively mild weather, several Mediterranean species flourish on the outside, such as Arbutus unedo, Teucrium fruticans, Periploca graeca, Laurus nobilis, and some species of Cistus, Cneorum tricoccon, Myrtus communis, Nicotiana glauca, Ruta chalepensis.
It is particularly worth mentioning the Camptotheca acuminata, which was first brought to Italy by the Garden. This plant, originally from the Middle East, has anti-cancer properties that have been well documented in the most recent scientific studies.
In the area dedicated to the cultivation of plants for scientific research there are: Solanum malacoxylon, which has been studied for years by the University of Milan because of the presence of dihydroxyvitamin D3; Nigella damascena for studies concerning plant-plant and plant-environment interactions; Vitis vinifera, of which polyphenols production is analysed when in correlation with natural product treatments, which have a protective action against pathogens.
There are other several Lamiaceae species (such as Teucrium, Scutellaria, and Stachys spp.), of which neoclerodane diterpenoids have been the subject of scientific studies.
The Garden hosts several autochthonous species useful for joint projects with the Comunità Montana Parco Alto Garda Bresciano, to study the local flora.
Ever since becoming property of the University, the Garden has gained tremendous academic importance for students of all levels. In particular, in the last few years, several all-day workshops have been organized at the Garden for university students.
G.E. Ghirardi Botanical Garden Scientific Manager: Professor Gelsomina Fico
Gardeners: Emanuele Albini, Mauro Folli
Educational Operators: Lombardy Botanical Gardens Network’s Educational Operators
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Several families of plant species are present in the Garden, the most numerous of which are Solanaceae, Apocynaceae, Apiaceae, Lamiaceae, and Rutaceae. Restoring the historical Digitalis collection is one of the future goals of the Garden.
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Through its scientific manager, the Botanical Garden is involved in several research projects that range from the phytochemical characterization of officinal species and ethno botany, to education and scientific divulgation. Special attention is given to the environment in which the Garden is placed.
Furthermore, as a member of the Lombardy Botanical Gardens Network, the Garden participates in projects and initiatives open to different types of people. For example, since 2004, a special evening opening of the Garden has been organized during the Summer Solstice, along with the other six gardens of the Network.
Finally, several yearly activities such as workshops, themed visits, and showcases are coordinated.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Bibliografia”] Orietta Servettaz
Breve guida dell’Orto Botanico G.E. Ghirardi
2000 Pubblicazione del Dipartimento di Biologia (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Orti e Giardini Botanici di Lombardia
(2002) Ed. Junior
Piante rare e piante interessanti degli Orti Botanici della Lombardia
(2008) Ed. Regione Lombardia
Gli Orti e i Giardini Botanici della Lombardia
Proposte didattiche ed educative per le scuole
(2009) Ed. Regione Lombardia
Piante e cambiamenti ambientali
(2009) Ed. Regione Lombardia
Gli Orti e i Giardini botanici di Lombardia – Proposte didattiche educative per le scuole
Le serre degli orti Botanici della Lombardia
Schede di Campo
Marina Clauser, Pietro Pavone
Orti Botanici – Eccellenze italiane