Autonomous University of Guadalajara Botanical Garden, scientific oasis and lung of the city

Visiting and touring the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG) you can find many gardens, groves, and spaces where the green color embellishes the mornings and afternoons of those who look at them.

Autonomous University of Guadalajara Botanical Garden, scientific oasis and lung of the city
The botanical garden of the UAG, an oasis of science and a lung of the city. Photo: UAG Press Bulletin

When entering and touring the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG) you can find many gardens, groves, and spaces in which the green color embellishes the mornings and afternoons of those who admire them; each of these spaces is special, but there is no one like the Botanical Garden.

Also known as "Jardín Botánico, Dr. Jorge Victor Eller Towsed", named after the scientist, biologist, and researcher of the institution, who founded it in 1968 and after his death in 1985, it received his name.

Today it is one of the most important research centers in the region. Scientists, biologists, and researchers from all over the world ask for information since it contains one of the most important concentrations of plant life in the country, explained Dr. Martha Reyes Hernández, Associate Research Professor at the UAG and currently in charge of the Botanical Garden.

The Botanical Garden is considered a collection of living plants whose objective was that it could be a reservoir of all Mexico, in which the floristic richness of the country is shown; its function allows botanical research, both national and international, is a place where students of this university, and others, can visit and practice in experimental areas, as well as be taught botanical specimens.

It also provides a place of recreation for the general public to learn about the flora of arid and semi-arid regions of Mexico.

The enclosure has approximately 2.5 hectares of extension, the soils are characterized by being sandy loam texture, with a cover of tezontle, the plants are arranged according to the place where they were collected in quadrants, called beds, which are delimited by walkways of approximately 1.2 meters that are limited by volcanic rock of 30 centimeters high.

The sections of the garden correspond to the states of Hidalgo, Coahuila, Zacatecas, Puebla, Oaxaca, Nuevo León, Jalisco, Sinaloa, among others.
"The students are fortunate to have within their facilities, and even more so in a city, a place to visit and get to know a preserved landscape where they can appreciate a wealth of flora within walking distance of their classrooms," she added.

Currently, the garden is visited for educational activities by the careers Agricultural Business Engineer, Engineer in Conservation and Environmental Restoration, among others, and students carry out practices in the subjects of Botany, Ecophysiology, Soils, Insect Collection, Botany, Vegetables.

Here they develop the implementation of short-growing crops working in experimental plots. This place was designed for the conservation of plants in the semi-arid climate of the country, which is why plant species such as the family of cacti, Asparagaceae, Liliaceae, Bromeliaceae, and legumes, some euphorbias, cycads, palms, Anacardiaceae, among others, predominate.

More than 30,000 species are preserved for research

The garden also has an Orchidarium whose function is to preserve orchids, ferns, and bromeliads; orchids are known for their high economic value, the disadvantage of them is that they have a slow development, but they are plants that make efficient use of nutrients and water in environments where these two factors are limited. Most of them are epiphytic plants that are not parasitic on the plants in which they are found.

Near the Orchidarium there are planting beds or experimental areas, where students work with different crop species to study their development and irrigation systems; they also quantify herbivores and study the morphology and physiology of the plants.

In front of the beds is the Herbarium, which was established a year before the garden. It is registered with the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) and the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), in national biological collections, and in Index Herbarium, which is why it is recognized worldwide.

In it, there are collected specimens that belong to biologist Carlos Díaz Luna, founder of the herbarium, who collected and identified a large number of specimens. It is a collection of dried plants and is part of a catalog of flora for reference and support in the generation of scientific products, species identification, etcetera.

Thanks to the collection, floristic and taxonomic studies have been carried out, among which the following stand out: The Novo-Galician flora and the revision of the genus Jarilla Rusby, among others. Notable botanists have worked in the Herbarium, such as internationally recognized biologist Carlos Díaz Luna, C. L. Díaz Luna, J.A. Lomelí Sención, E. Sahagun Godínez, P. Carrillo-Reyes.

The biological collection holds about 30 thousand herborized specimens, among which some cryptogamous and phanerogamous plants stand out, including the families: Fabaceae, Asteraceae, and Euphorbiaceae. As it is a scientific collection and exists in an index of herbaria, links have been made with national and foreign universities for the loan of species on request for botanical research.

The ecological function of botanical gardens is also very important, although it is sometimes underestimated. Some of the functions are to recharge the phreatic mantles; they also trap atmospheric carbon, release oxygen and help preserve local or migratory fauna of birds, mammals, plants, and arthropods. It is a point of life amid the urbanity that sometimes suffocates those who inhabit it.

"That is why I invite you to visit and respect our garden, it is a place where there are all kinds of birds, mammals, and insects that live in balance and harmony with us; that is the great power of nature and it can still teach us a lot," she concluded.