Situated at 1525m a.s.l. in the municipality of Capracotta, the Garden is among the highest in Italy and extends over an area of 10 hectares. It is a botanical garden where plants are cultivated and collected for various reasons, including scientific research, conservation and teaching. Created in 1963 by Valerio Giacomini, leader in the Italian and European scientific community, it was built by Paolo Pizzolongo, an illustrious botanist. The symbol of the garden is the Lobelius maple (Acer cappadocicum Gled. subsp. lobelii (Ten.) A.E.Murray), a native species of the central-southern Apennines, a tree whose leaves are palmate-lobed with 5 sharp pointed lobes.
In the interior of the garden you can observe a great variety of flora typical of this environment, along a path that includes several natural habitats such as a beech forest (dominant tree species is the beech variety Fagus sylvatica L., 1753), spread in an altitudinal band between at about 1250 to 1800 meters. The beech is a majestic plant, characterstic of the broad-leaved mountain forest, with smooth bark, fusiform buds and oval leaves. Its fruits are called beeches. In association with the beech we also find other plants such as the bird rowan, so called because hunters used to exploit the berries to hunt thrushes; the yew, a conifer known by the name of the “tree of death” because it contains an alkaloid substance that has a narcotic and paralyzing effect; the spruce ( dominant species of the white fir Abies albaMill.1759) a conifer whose natural nuclei represent real glacial traces. The white fir has needle-like leaves inserted into a comb along the shoots, dark green with two white longitudinal lines on the lower leaves; it can reach 30 meters in height. This tree has pine cones that point upwards. There are shrubs scattered all over the garden; the marsh area includes plants whose stem and leaves have mostly emerged, that have developed particularly radical adaptations that make them suitable for life in swampy or marshy soils. This includes species such as tenacious rush (Juncus inflexus), alpine senecio (Senecio alpinus), orchids (Dactylorhiza maculata and D. incarnata subsp. incarnata) and the rare and protected marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). There is also a rock garden, an environment that recreates scree and high altitude debris hills in a realistic way; in the mountain scree of our Apennines we can find the white daisy (Leucanthemum coronopifolium subsp. tenuifolium).
There are also flowerbeds with high altitude Apennine species, among which is the Apennine edelweiss (Leontopodium nivale), the Maiella pine (Armeria majellensis), the violet fescue (Festuca violacea subp. italica); and a flowerbed of laboratory plants such as belladonna (Atropa belladonna), a plant of the solanaceae family used by women in the Renaissance period to give themselves a more languid look thanks to a substance, atropine, which dilates the pupils; the greater gentian (Gentiana lutea L., 1753), a protected plant whose collection is forbidden; valerian (Valeriana officinalis L., 1753), whose popular name is cat’s grass, with sedative and soothing properties.
Of particular importance is the “Path of the Senses”, developed for those who have motor or visual disabilities.
The management of the garden is entrusted to a consortium, set up in 2003 and currently made up of three organizations: Municipality of Capracotta, The University of Molise and the Region of Molise.
The aims of the Garden are the in-situ and ex-situ conservation of some rare, endemic and endangered plant species. A representative sample of regional floral biodiversity, gathered from the Garden, is kept in the Molise University Herbarium Museo dell’Erbario dell’Università del Molise(Herbarium Universitatis Molisii) based in Pesche (IS). In cooperation with this organization, activities of conservation of seeds and propogation of natural and cultivated species, those at risk of extinction or useful for environmental recovery, is carried out. Other than conservation, primary importance is given to environmental education, aimed at all the guests who take advantage of it, in order to raise people’s awareness of and respect for the environment and all its components.
Opening times 15 April – 31 October Timetable: 8.00 am – 6.00 pm. Free admission
For guided tours (upon booking) Dott.ssa Iole Sabelli 340-6449336 Dott.ssa Carmen Giancola 349-6107487.
Clothing suitable for the season and walking shoes are recommended