Systematic Botany Discipline The discipline long referred to as Botany Branch came into being in 1906. The discipline is composed of World renowned FRI Herbarium, Carpological Museum and Botanical Garden and Arboreta. Over 100 years of the development, fundamental aspects behind the authentic identity and correct name of the species of forest flora of India formed the principal function of the discipline. For understanding the components of biodiversity and forest wealth the correct identity of its units is of utmost significance for the judicious and rational utilization. Herbarium has repository of 3.3 lakhs authentically identified specimens which include 1300 type specimens maintained and preserved under conventional methods. Oldest specimen of the herbarium dates back to 1807. During the hundred year of history of the institute, herbarium of FRI has served the catered need of various research organization in India and abroad. Taxonomic database on the significant collections such as valuable type specimens housed in the herbarium has been developed for the digitization. Carpological museum developed as an adjunct to the herbarium is represented by over 500 different types of forest fruits/seeds which are useful in identification of plants without recourse to any other parts. Botanical Gardenas and adjunct to the discipline was established in the year 1934. The development of Arboreta representing various sections of forestry species such as conifers, palms, bamboos etc. started in 1925 were improved for their research, education and extension oriented activities besides enrichment. The repositories of the garden and the arboretum are the prime source of information not only on the conservation of significant species but also the centre of education and research. Collection of over 200 original paintings of plants done by world famous plant artists, Rai Sahib Thakur Ganga Singh and PN Sharma are delight to the eyes of thousands. Significant Achievements :Floristic Surveys and writing of forest flora of un/underexplored regions of the country and outside such as that of Sudan, Nepal-Tibet; New Discoveries, Inventions, records of occurrence and extent of Distribution of nearly 300 species. Specific groups of Forestry Important Species such as “Living Indian Gymnosperms Part I (Cycadales, Ginkgoales and Coniferales” and Gymnosperms of Indian Sub-Continent ; the genus Toona (Meliaceae) and the family Meliaceae typical of Indian forest flora; Dipterocarpus and Terminalia occurring in various parts of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh; Forest for Food and Fodder Species of Forestry Origin; Venerated Plants; Plant Biodiversity of Indian Flora with particuklar emphasis on the rare, endemic, relict taxa of ornamental, forestry and other values ; threatened groups of plants such as orchids rare poplars, Rhododendrons and gymnosperms ; rediscovery of Type specimens and fragmentary records of occurrence with the greater attention on the threatened bio-diversity of Indian flora ; Studies on Bamboos through a major break through in identification approach of bamboos without recourse to flowering material, which is rare on account of bamboo being a monocarpic and flower at a fixed interval of period. Iconography on bamboos based on original paintings; Diversity evaluation, phytogeographical entities and strategies for conservation ; Biochemical characterization through isozyme patterns was studied in Dendrocalamus strictus (Roxb.) Nees with a view to applying recent trends to widen the gene base and solving the taxonomic ambiguity. Reports on flowering of several species of bamboos were made; Studies on Rattans; Nomenclature of the incorrect and ambiguous names of more than 6000 species of plants following International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN) is considered significant for the correct and judicious utilization of flora Innovations and improvisations during the Centenary year in the Botanical Garden, City campus ( Rangers’ College), Bambusetum and Arboretum:
Botanical Garden of FRI in New Forest campus has developed a Green Theatre (Harit Sabha Chhatra), unique to any of the botanical gardens in the world. The significance lies in the vast crown of Eastern Himalayan – cum – northeastern Indian Horse Chest nut (Aesculus assamica) over 60 years of age around which the crown theatre has been developed. The tree provides shade in summer and sunlight in severe winter with leaf-fallen architectural branching. The tree provides benching for the sitting of nearly 180 students underneath. Here in this green theatre various schools and colleges can attend different field courses of botanical studies.. Besides, the garden has nature trails passing through the variety of flora of over 400 species with exotics from Australia, South America, Africa, Indo-Malaysia, China and Japan etc. Trees are provided with name plates and conveniently interpretative display boards with pictorial information on rare and spectacular plant species, fruits and seeds etc. The botanical curios of the garden are in the form shackle-shaped vine of climbing Bauhinia, strangulating giant climber of Entada, black and golden bamboos, honey locust tree bearing compound thorns, rudraksha tree, male cone bearing cycad with trunk resembling with that of Dinosaur (both of Jurassic age) etc.
The institute provides innovations in the botanical haven in the Shatabdi Van Vigyan Kendra (City Centre) of erstwhile Rangers’ College of the organization by the concerted efforts and integrated approach through research, education and extension aspects. One such effort is in the development of “Sir Brandis Walking Trail” in City Centre environ. The walking trail is honoured in name of the forestry icon and a famous forest botanist, Dr. Brandis who laid foundation of forestry education in India through “Imperial Forestry School” in the year 1875 and the Forestry School Garden in the present City Centre of FRI. The trail provides information on as many as 35 different trees with regards to their common and scientific name, country of origin, plant families and vital features on height and girth of some of the most magnificent species such as that of a teak tree (Height 41.76 m with diameter at breast height 1.52 m), Pterygota alata (Ht. 51.96 m and diameter 1.30 m), Chir tree with 32.76 m height Podocarpus gracilior (Ht. 21.31 m) etc. Incidentally some of such trees occurring in the City Centre Campus are among the oldest trees of the species in the world. Evidentially, there are herbarium specimens of several of them represented in the FRI herbarium which date back to 1891-1899. Students of environment and biology will find to their delight “Great Green Twin Towers” of mighty teak and Pterygota trees of over 100 years age, variety of climbers, male and female trees of Chinese mulberry, “Nature’s Artificial Tree” with double morphology of a climbing fig bearing two types of foliage on a dead wood of a Chir tree, and giant bamboo with growth of its shoot up to 1 meter a day on record. One could learn while walking through Sir Brandis trail about the variety of birds, butterflies, insect fauna and diverse ground flora. For the Doon urbanites the centre provides a great delight of nature.
FRI’s Bambusetum (Bans Vatika) dates back to the year 1925 when planting of bamboo was the main aim, whereas during the centenary of FRI in 2006 and since then the Bambusetum has not only been enriched by species but laid with state – o f-the - art design and inclusion. These are representation of nearly 50 species and varieties. One could wonder to see a climbing variety, yellow and pitcher bamboo and a giant variety growing to a height of nearly 100 ft. One could feel the venture while passing through the “Bamboo Micro tunnel”, “Bamboo Chaupal” surrounded by the clumps of rural bamboo species , “Open Bamboo Studio” etc. Species for introduction in urban areas for aesthetics and landscaping and rural use for livelihood are provided. The walking trail in bamboo garden developed during the centenary year provides better emphasis and attention for research and education on this green gold and renewable resource of the country. The improved lay out with walk ways and other features developed from the point of view of greater attention of public and the researchers to learn about this green gold .
Arboretum (Vriksha Vatika) of FRI laid in 1925 which represents species and varieties of nearly 150 species of exotic and native trees grown in clusters for the benefit of nature enthusiasts students of biology and environment to study on various aspects of tree morphology, phenology, regeneration and tree architecture.