A botanical garden (or botanic garden) is a well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names. It may contain specialist plant collections such as cacti and succulent plants, herb gardens, plants from particular parts of the world, and so on; there may be greenhouses, shadehouses, again with special collections such as tropical plants, alpine plants, or other exotic plants. Visitor services at a botanical garden might include tours, educational displays, art exhibitions, book rooms, open-air theatrical and musical performances, and other entertainment.
Botanical gardens are often run by universities or other scientific research organizations, and often have associated herbaria and research programmes in plant taxonomy or some other aspect of botanical science. In principle, their role is to maintain documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display, and education, although this will depend on the resources available and the special interests pursued at each particular garden.
The origin of modern botanical gardens can be traced to European medieval medicinal gardens known as physic gardens, the first of these being founded during the Italian Renaissance in the 16th century. This early concern with medicinal plants changed in the 17th century to an interest in the new plant imports from explorations outside Europe as botany gradually established its independence from medicine. In the 18th century, systems of nomenclature and classification were devised by botanists working in the herbaria and universities associated with the gardens, these systems often being displayed in the gardens as educational "order beds". With the rapid rise of European imperialism in the late 18th century, botanic gardens were established in the tropics, and economic botany became a focus with the hub at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London.
Like many public sites in Frankfurt, it was privately financed and implemented by the architect Heinrich Siesmayer. Work was completed in 1871 and opened to the public. One colorful visit was from the American entertainer Buffalo Bill who brought his Western show in 1890. In 1931, it was taken over by the city of Frankfurt but was later transferred to the American occupation authorities after World War II. When the Palmengarten was returned to the city's hands in the sixties, a major reconstruction effort was begun. Halls destroyed in the war were redeveloped and expanded. In 1992 the reconstruction finished completely and the Palmengarten shined in its new form.
Directly next to the area of the Palmengarten is the Frankfurt Botanical Garden, which belongs to the biology department of Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt.