In 1876 the first seedlings of Brazilian rubber tree ever planted in South Asia, grew and prospered in Henarathgoda Botanical Gardens. The seeds smuggled out of the Brazilian Amazon by Sir Henry Wickham and nurtured at London’s Kew Gardens led to an economic boom in the region and revolutionised the world.
Situated 30 km from Colombo and just five km from Gampaha The Henarathgoda Botanical Gardens is often overlooked for more celebrated botanical gardens in Peradeniya and Hakgala, yet is celebrated for its collection of tropical trees including the first flock of para rubber trees, the originals that sired the rubber industry throughout Southeast Asia in Malaya, Indonesia and South India as well as in Sri Lanka.
Expanding over 43 acres and situated next to paddy fields and the Attanagalu Oya the garden function as a green lung and a secondary forest to the city. The newest additions to the 127 year old botanical gardens include boat rides at the Attanagalu Oya and a bridge over the river.
The garden hosts an extensive collection of palms, orchids and trees endemic to the country. The garden is also home to nearly 80 bird species including ten endemic species, 18 species of mammals including Sri Lankan flying squirrel and 12 species of butterflies and 10 species of dragonflies.
The garden is divided in to an orchid garden, which hosts a rare specimen of Queen of Orchids, forest path, palms garden, the medicinal garden, which houses a collection of trees producing arrow poison from Africa and Malaya and Educational garden and a Japanese garden.
Although the garden is open to the public throughout the year, the best period to visit the botanical garden is following the monsoon season which leaves the foliage brimming with vibrancy and in numerable blooms. As one of the island’s most renowned institutions for conservation, the Henarathgoda Botanical Garden is also actively engaged in the development and education of the country’s floriculture and botanical research.