Curiosity Cabinet

The Curiosity Cabinet tells stories about the amazing plants in our collection.

The Curiosity Cabinet is a ‘Pit Glass House’ built in the 1860’s.  It is a rare example of the half basement design. It was built to acclimatise plants to Australian conditions.

Plants on display

Plants which survive arid conditions are now on display in the Curiosity Cabinet. Arid zones are areas that receive an annual rainfall of 25 cm or less. 

These plants all have a type of adaptation that helps them to survive with minimal water. 

You'll see the Golden Barrel Cactus, Echinocatus grusonii. The spines on cacti are modified leaves. These reduce the amount of water lost by the plant. Spines also protect the plant from being eaten by animals.

The colour of a plant is an adaptation. Silver or blue foliage, hairs or a waxy surface allows the plant to reflect sunlight and reduces evaporation.

Fleshy leaves and stems store water. Plants may have hard leathery scales and warty leaf surfaces. This adaptation thickens and hardens the leaf epidermis (skin) helping reduce the rate of water loss (transpiration) from the plant. 


Page last updated: Tuesday, 29 October 2019