08.07.2015 | Media Release, iDiv

On the relationships between plants and animals

(Photo: Tobias Wagner, iDiv)

(Photo: Tobias Wagner, iDiv)

What happens when a hippo stumbles across a sleepy plant? Leipzig University's Botanical Garden has opened a new information trail on the diverse and unusual relationships between plants and animals. Visitors to the Beziehungspfad, or "relationship trail", which was declared open on 8 July 2015, also receive a booklet containing high-quality photos and carefully selected information, as well as an audio guide for smartphones. Similar to the Wasserpfad, or "water trail", created in 2013, the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig helped fund the new information trail.

The project aims to give visitors to the garden a deeper understanding of just how closely plants and animals are connected and how this connection shapes the diverse life forms on our planet. "The trail gives a voice to the plants in the Botanical Garden," says Professor Christian Wirth, Director of the Botanical Garden and of the iDiv research centre. "We want to tell visitors stories." For instance, an apple does not exist to feed mankind, "but so that the pips held in its core can be transported away from the mother plant."

The book's chapters reflect the 18 stations dotted along the trail and a map is also provided to help visitors find their bearings. The most impressive "relationship tales" of the approximately 7,000 types of plants housed in the Botanical Garden will be told.

"You don't have to come clued up, you just need a good amount of curiosity. And enough time, then you're sure to have many 'aha' moments," write Christian Wirth and Dr Martin Freiberg, Curator, in the foreword of the trail booklet. The new trail is ready and waiting to be explored, every day from 9am to 8pm.

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