The Botany Gardens Glasshouses


In 1946 the University purchased  the estate of Plas Penglais.  Within two years the house was extensively renovated and enlarged, while the wilderness around it was being tackled by the garden staff, who created the lovely garden, with lawns sweeping down to the little brook and beds of shrubby and perennial plants.  These beds became known as the Order Beds because each one was planted up with plants belonging to the same flowering family or natural order. On the other side of the  brook, on the east side of Plas Penglais drive (across Penglais Road opposite the main campus entrance), a large wooden- framed glasshouse was erected, along with a single storey brick building which now constitutes our present potting- and storage-sheds.

photo of the tropical house

Ten years later, when Professor Philip Wareing  was appointed Head of the Botany Department, more glasshouses were added to the site, and these were used for research. Some of these houses (A1, A2, A3, and A10), built nearly fifty years ago, are still in good condition and are in constant use today.  In 1978 the large Teaching House was erected.  In 1981 the original wooden-framed Tropical House was dismantled and replaced by the present aluminium-framed glasshouse.

tree fern Angiopteris evectaTropical house

Within the Tropical House is a wide diversity of plant species, including Lycophyta (club mosses), ferns (around ten species), cycads, forty or so species of Cacti and succulents, a banana ‘tree’ and a date palm, insectivorous plants and Orchids, and many others grown simply for their ornamental value.   Students and campus visitors are welcome to visit the glasshouses and see these exotic plant species.  Entrance to the Tropical Glasshouse is through the potting shed.  Please remember that the buildings are only open during working hours (closed 1300 – 1400).

Ferns and Cycads

The largest plants in the Glasshouse are the tree fern Angiopteris evecta (right) and the cycad Cycas revoluta. There are a number of ferns and cycads in the collection.

Click on the Hyperlinks below for a few examples:

Division Pteridophyta (the ferns)
Division Cycadophyta (the cycads)

bromeliads and aroids on display in the tropical houseFlowering Plants (the Angiosperms)

Flowering plants are assembled in beds and displays, like the bromeliads and aroids shown to the right.
In the classification system devised by Cronquist, the angiosperms are the Division Magnoliophyta, which is subdivided into two classes (ending -opsida), each of which is divided into subclasses (ending -idae). In all, there are 12 angiosperm subclasses, containing 400 families (ending -aceae) and more than 200,000 species.


photo of orchidsClass Liliopsida (the monocots)

photo of HibiscusClass Magnoliopsida (the dicots)

Links to Botanical Web Sites:


Original text by  Dr Ian Scott and Pat Causton

Photography by Tony Pugh

Glasshouse staff: David Summers, Pat Causton, Ray Smith, Tom Thomas and helpers