Conservation and Education at the National Arboretum
The National Arboretum of Nicaragua is located just south of the old center of the city of Managua, and north of Tiscapa Park, providing a peaceful haven in a busy city. Its central location makes it convenient to visit when viewing other attractions in Managua, and it offers a close-up view of more than 200 trees, plants and bushes from all of Nicaragua’s regions. The arboretum was founded in 1991 by Juan Bautista Salas, one of Nicaragua’s most prominent and dedicated scientists, and provides a living library for students, and visitors, to learn about the country’s natural flora and how to protect it.
Staff members at the National Arboretum are qualified to advise students on environmental issues and to offer scientific information regarding the identification and uses of plants. Visitors to the arboretum will note that the plants are clearly labeled with both the botanical and common names and while some areas may appear rather crowded due to the natural growth of the plants, all specimens are easily visible.
The National Arboretum is cared for by Nicaragua’s National Forestry Institute (INAFOR) and the main building has some displays detailing the work of its founder. Plants found within the arboretum include the beautiful national flower of Nicaragua – the Sacuanjoche (Plumeria rubra) – which are at their most fragrant at night, while the national tree – the Madroño (Calycophyllum candidissimum) – is also prominently displayed in the park.
Believed to have originated with the Egyptian Pharoahs, an arboretum is a collection of trees, most often used for research and conservation purposes. Although, with the Pharoahs, the establishment of arboreta was apparently born of a desire to possess the exotic, and they brought pine and cedar from Syria, ebony from the Sudan and frankincense from the Land of Punt – the location of which has been lost in time. This practice of creating a museum of living plants is found throughout the world, and is most often attached to educational centers, as is the case with the National Arboretum of Nicaragua. But you don’t have to be a scholar to appreciate nature’s beauty, and the arboretum offers the opportunity to view Nicaragua’s plant species in one location, making it worth a visit if you happen to be exploring Managua.