Research to sustain plant conservation

As a university garden the botanical garden has a strong relationship with the international scientific community. We build living plant collections with threatened species and species of known wild origin, that are (or can be) used in scientific research projects.

In February 2022 the Ghent University Botanical Garden has been granted a Level IV Accreditation through the ArbNet Accreditation Program, stating the scientific importance of our arboretum according to an international standard.

The scientific research in the garden currently focuses on two plant groups: Magnolia (Magnoliaceae) and Boswellia (Burseraceae). It is being sponsored by Franklinia Foundation and supported by the Botanical Garden Fund - Gabriëlle De Waele.


The molecular research on Magnolia species of Central America makes it possible to unravel the relationships in this group in order to support local conservation of the threatened species. The knowledge, protocols and guidelines obtained from the research are shared with the local actors (organizations, scientists, students) who translate them into concrete actions in the field.

For this research the Botanical Garden cooperates with the Instituto de Ecologia (A.C., Mexico). Prof. Dr. Marie-Stéphanie Samain (Instituto de Ecologia, A.C. and guest professor at the Ghent University) takes part in the Global Conservation Consortia Conservation Genetics Working Group and the Global Conservation Consortium for Magnolia.


Dr. Kay Van Damme coordinates for the Botanical Garden a project for the conservation of endemic and threatened frankincense trees (Boswellia) on the Socotra Archipelago (Yemen). The project runs in cooperation with the Mendel University (Brno, Czech Republic) (main coordinator),  Botanical Garden of Rome, La Sapienza University (Italy), the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), Wageningen University & Research (the Netherlands), Oman Botanic Garden (Yemen) en local organizations and families. Local people on Socotra lead this project on the ground to protect the frankincense trees in nature and they replant the trees themselves.

Determination keys

We work on identification keys for different taxa:

  • Acer
  • Alnus
  • Betula
  • Buxaceae
  • Carpinus - Ostrya - Ostryopsis
  • Cornus (draft)
  • Fagus
  • Fraxinus
  • Hamamelidaceae
  • Hydrangeaceae (draft)
  • Juglandaceae
  • Quercus (draft)
  • Rhipsalis (draft)
  • Tilia
  • Viburnum (draft)

    Click here to consult these identification keys.