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Plants & History
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens


Selby Gardens is a respected world leader in the study, conservation, and display of tropical and subtropical plants. It’s home to the world’s largest scientifically documented collection of epiphytes, which are plants that have adapted to live in the tree canopy in search of sunlight, such as many species orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, and ferns.  Scientists estimate as much as 10% of the world’s flora grows epiphytically.

Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus is the most biologically diverse botanical garden, per acre, in the world. On over 200 expeditions to the tropics and subtropics, Selby Gardens scientists have helped build a collection of more than 13,500 accessions (a genetically unique plant sample from a single species collected at one time from a specific location) of documented live plants, which include some 5,000 species in 1,200 genera from 200 plant families.

The gardens’ holdings include thousands of live, pressed and dried, and liquid-preserved specimens of epiphytes as well as terrestrial species of tropical plants.  The living collection is comprised of an estimated  20,000 plants in the greenhouses and outdoor gardens. The Downtown Sarasota campus features eight greenhouses including the Tropical Conservatory, which is open to the public.

Selby Gardens’ Historic Spanish Point campus is home to over 250 species of Florida native plants, or about 20% of the species found in all of Sarasota County.  Plant communities represented at the site include pine flatwoods, mesic hammock, tropical maritime hammock, mangrove swamp, tidal marsh, Native American shell mound, and coastal berm.