Orto Botanico ed Erbario – Università di Bologna

3 Greenhouse of succulent plants

This collection of 5,000 plants was established by Giuseppe Lodi, Professor of Pharmaceutical Botany in Bologna, who looked after it for many years. The main families of succulents are here preserved and this collection is one of the most important in Italy.

The plants in the greenhouse are arranged in this way:

Squared flowerbed Neotropical succulents (living in South and Central America) of medium and big size

Rectangular flowerbed  Paleotropical succulents (living in continental Africa, Madagascar and Canary Islands)

Left bench In this bench there are succulents of small and medium size that store water in leaves. In a part of this bench there are plants with growth anomaly, the so called “monstrous form”.

Right bench In this bench there are succulents of small and medium size that store water in stems. A part of the bench is dedicated to phenomenon of the convergent evolution: different species, living in similar environments, can be very similar because the natural selection can facilitate similar phenotypes. This phenomenon is observed in numerous species but the most striking example is the convergent evolution of cacti and euphorbias.

Next to the left bench there is Welwitschia mirabilis J.D. Hooker, a very particular plant with unusual morphology and systematic position, normally exposed with succulents. Even if living in deserts, Welwitschia mirabilis doesn’t bear any of the typical adaptations of succulents. It has a short woody stem from which two opposite leaves grows in length throughout the entire life of the plant. In adult plants the leaves can reach the length of 3 m with the ends dried and shredded. From the stem a long root extends to a depth roughly equal to the span of the living leaves. In wild, Welwitschia leaves only in SW Africaand Angola, in particular, it leaves in the desertic area next to the Atlantic Ocean, the Namib desert



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