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A new botanical museum in Chiang Mai

February 22, 2011

Eventually the world will discover that Chiang Mai is an interesting spot for studying Southeast Asian tropical plants. The latest addition is the Natural Science Museum at the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden.

The displays are pedagogic, modern and most interesting for any devoted plant lover. The living plants can be seen outside in the actual garden, while the museum treats interesting subjects such as the history of botany in Thailand, evolution and ecology.

The displays have texts in both English and Thai. The admission is sponsored by the Thai government and thus it is free.

Although we went there on a Sunday which was also a special Buddhist holiday, and although the gift store 500 meters away was crowded with Thai visitors, we were alone in the museum. I believe though that the museum is a wonderful pedagogic tool for any teacher, and the aim is rather Thai school children than tourists.

Eric Danell

A prehistoric landscape with club mosses, growing long before the dawn of flowers, as depicted by the QSBG museum artist.

According to recent DNA studies, the clubmosses constitute a sister group (division Lycophyta) to all other vascular plants (Euphyllophyta). The oldest lycopod fossil (Baragwanathia) comes from Silurian rock in Australia (416 million years ago). They are the closest link to the advanced underwater green algae (Charophyta), the grand grandfathers of all vascular land plants. Most Thai Lycopodiums grow as epiphytes in moist mountains. Lycopodiopsida comprises ca 1200 species in the world, of which 180 belong to Lycopodium, represented by 9 species in Thailand. (This text was derived from the Dokmai Garden modest display of plant evolution)

The QSBG insect exhibition is a nice spot too!

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