As an integral and historical component of the Plant Science Department the Botanical Garden provides material for both teaching and research.
Our Curators are both Botanists themselves with a taxonomic and horticultural background and provide both advise and scouting support for our researchers.
The advantage of having a living collection on hand is immediately apparent for a research institution. An example to illustrate; if a given scientist wishes to carry out research on a genus with a disjunct and hard to access range, such as the genus Greyia, which occurs along the Eastern escarpment and which is rare in cultivation, then the plants are on hand and growing on campus, if not, they can be sourced by specialists rather than through an expensive and possibly fruitless exercise in field collection and can provide material directly to our researchers without the involvement of a third party. An added bonus is that we can and do grow rare exotic plants too, which the national Botanical Gardens do not do.
The Botanical Garden is the sole supplier for the living plant material used in demonstrations for under- and postgraduate practical classes given by the Department of Plant Science. This material is used during roughly 40 practical sessions annually by roughly 700 BSc undergraduate students from ten departments and as an integral part of the BSc Honours in Taxonomy course offered by the Plant Science Department. Honours, MSc and PhD students regularly make use of the plant material cultivated with the Botanical Gardens for their projects and approximately 40 staff members from about 10 departments benefit from plants specifically grown and housed for these purposes. The use of the material provided by us is not restricted to the Facility of Natural and Agricultural Sciences but is of use to researchers in other fields such as Veterinary science, other Universities (nationally and internationally) and other institutions such as the CSIR.
The Botanical Garden welcomes enquiries from researchers who wish to use the collections and/or the Gardens facilities (such as the Rainwater Harvesting Garden) for research purposes
With a Botanical Garden such as ours with as long a history with its parent institution, it is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of the publications, theses and the like prepared with the help of material provided by us, but, as a small sample, please find below lists from researchers and students based at, or from, the University of Pretoria of publications made possible with material held in, and sourced from our collections.
Henley-Smith, C.J., Botha, F.S., Steffens, F.E., and Lall, N. 2014. Predicting the influence of multiple components on microbial inhibition using a logistic response model - a novel approach. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14:190.
Henley-Smith, C.J. 2011. Identification of bioactive compounds of a South African plant extract for combating potentially pathogenic oral microorganisms. Master’s thesis, University of Pretoria.