Plant Labels

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Plant Labels with a difference

Plant labels in botanical gardens have traditionally been limited to the scientific name, family name, common names and distribution.

Traditional plant label

While this is valuable information, most visitors to gardens find it difficult to relate to these often unfamiliar words, and thus can find the plants and their often fascinating stories somewhat inaccessible. Since a major purpose of many of our gardens in Africa is an educational one, it seems necessary to look for ways in which plants and their stories can be made more accessible to more visitors.

The development of 'interprelabels'

After discussions and idea sharing with Mark Richardson of Alice Springs Desert Park in Australia, the NBI began experimenting with various plant label designs that were more interpretive than traditional botanical garden labels. After extensive visitor trials, and testing and suggestions from numerous colleagues, this format (interprelabel) emerged as being most easy to read and containing the detail required by most garden users. This format is being used effectively in several gardens..

Using interpretive labels to help save threatened plants.

Many of Africa's plants are in danger of disappearing from their natural habitats, and in some cases are in danger of extinction. Simple nature interpretation techniques can be used to heighten awareness of these problems, and to promote action that botanical garden visitors can take to help save these plants. This modified interprelabel was developed for the Zomba Botanical Garden threatened plants programme.

Using small temporary labels

The use of small, temporary plant labels for interpretation has many applications. One novel idea is their use in the Botanical Zoo, Natal National Botanical Garden. If you develop any more new way of using these labels, please let us know.

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