Tropical Palms

The oldest glasshouse at the Botanics

  • Built in 1834
  • Desired temperature: 18 - 24ºC
  • Relative humidity: 80%

The vertical stems of Bambusa vulgarisNot long after moving to the present site at Inverleith, Regius Keeper Robert Graham managed to agree a £1500 grant from the Government to build the octagonal Tropical Palm House. It was the largest such structure in Britain when it was opened in 1834.

  The straight, bare trunks and the canopy of large leaves in a hot and humid environment recreate the atmosphere of the rainforest. Most of the world's 2600 species of palm grow in wet tropical forests, both on coastal plains and river flats, or as forest understorey plants. In addition to these stately plants, look out for the massive clump of bamboo and the barbed, rope-like rattan palms, which can climb and grow to over 100 metres long.

Sabal bermudana in 2007The Tropical Palm House is not only the oldest glasshouse in Edinburgh, but also boasts the Garden's oldest palm at its centre. The Sabal bermudana was moved from the previous Leith Walk site in 1822. As you can see from the caption, it was already a mature plant when it was moved.

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The Sabal bermudana in c. 1834.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)