Cultivating People and Plants

The Woodiana publication (first produced in 2013) is produced by the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust to highlight the role that the Trust plays in supporting and promoting the Durban Botanic Gardens.

Click on a cover to download that issue and read about the different initiatives that we support.

umKhuhlu Series

The Durban Botanic Gardens Trust is committed to supporting key botanical endeavours such as the umKhuhlu series, which will cover themes within the broad fields of botany and horticulture, and the enduring relationship between people and plants in South Africa.

The name umKhuhlu comes from the African name for the Forest Mahogany (Trichilia dregeana Sond.), a large evergreen tree which was once common in the old Durban forest and today still survives in the modern city, lining some of the roads on its Berea Ridge. It is included in the Red list of South African Plants.

The Durban Forest

The first publication of the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust’s umKhuhlu Series, the Durban Forest explores the City’s history and heritage, and the possibilities for a sustainable relationship between urban development and the natural environment. The aim of the publication is promote ecosystem-based sustainability planning and to influence city leaders, municipal officials, planners, students and the public alike.

The Durban Forest will appeal to all those interested in people and the environment, culture and community, our past and our future.

“The Durban Botanic Gardens is thus a natural home for the articulation and championing of the message of the Durban Forest, and for the promotion and sharing of ideas and practices relevant to the collective urban future of all Durban’s residents.”

The Durban Forest can be purchased from all leading bookshops or direct through the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust.  Please enquire about our special rate for bulk orders.


Strelitzias of the World

The second publication in the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust’s umKhuhlu series is now available. It’s a must for all fans of environmental exploration, plant discoveries and historical adventures.

From Amazonian jungles to royal palaces, from scientific detective work to painstaking artistry, it tells the risky and intriguing international saga of the spectacular plant family of strelitzias.

Did you know

  • Strelitzias are ranked one of the world’s five most beautiful flowers and are grown and sold in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australasia
  • Most of the strelitzia family come from southern Africa but they have relatives in Madagascar and South America’s remote Amazon region
  • These spectacular plants have been named after a British queen (Strelitzia reginae), a Russian prince (Strelitzia nicolai) and a hero of South Africa’s freedom struggle (Mandela’s gold)
  • Strelitzias are a small family of plants with a very long ancestry, linking back several hundred million years to the ancient supercontinents of Gondwanaland and Pangaea
  • The strelitzia is the provincial emblem of KwaZulu-Natal

Strelitzias of the World tells how adventurous plant collectors tackled pirates, deathly disease and near-impenetrable jungle. Painstaking botanists named the plants for science – often crossing swords with colleagues in the process as professional rivalries took hold. Strelitzias of the World also tells how the species have been of use both to people, yesterday and today, and how wild animals consume and use them to survive and thrive.

The book’s cover features a painting of Strelitzia juncea by Cape Town artist Basia Hitchcock Swiel and its pages showcase some of the greatest examples of botanical art of the past three centuries. These include Franz Bauer, official painter to the British King George III and rated by connoisseurs as the best botanical artist of all time, and Gillian Condy, then botanical artist at the SA National Biodiversity Institute, whose official task was the depiction of the “Mandela’s Gold” strelitzia.

Strelitzias of the World was written by two Durbanites – professional taxonomist and eThekwini Living Legend Himansu Baijnath and botanical historian and award-winning freelance journalist Patricia McCracken. In keeping with the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust mission of promoting botanical excellence, we are thrilled that the quality of their work was recognised by the prestigious Stanley Smith (UK) Horticultural Trust with a grant helping to make this publication possible.

‘An original and worthwhile contribution to both botany and history’ – Dr Hugh Glen

‘Meaningful, captures intriguing personalities and surprises the reader’ – Dr Yashica Singh

Strelitzias of the World can be purchased from all leading bookshops or direct through the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust.  Please enquire about our special rate for bulk orders.


Click here if you’d like us to keep you informed about this book and how you can help us sustain the mission of Durban Botanic Gardens, the oldest surviving botanic garden in Africa.