Welcome to the Plants of Jungle Gardens!
Jungle Gardens, on Avery Island, home of world-famous Tabasco brand Pepper Sauce, is located near New Iberia, Louisiana. It is one of the most attractive natural places you could ever visit. I have been both a visitor to and an explorer of Avery Island and Jungle Gardens for 47 years, and they never fail to impress me. During that time I have encountered many visitors from all over the United States and around the world who are lost for words at the beauty of this place.
The garden began nearly 100 years ago, the idea of E. A. McIlhenny. Initially, it was wildlife refuge for the Snowy Egret and later a working nursery that grew and sold plants such as Hollies, Camellias, Bamboo, and other exotics. In 1935, it opened to the public as Jungle Gardens and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since.
I began exploring Avery Island and Jungle Gardens in 1971 as an undergraduate student of botany at USL in Lafayette, Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). My botanical mentors, Professors John W. Thieret and William D. Reese, were fascinated by the five salt dome islands of Louisiana, of which Avery is one. I owe it to them for introducing me to such an incredible botanical wonderland.
From 1980 until 2016 I taught botany courses at ULL, and throughout that time brought botany students to Avery Island and the gardens, always exploring. After my retirement from the university, McIlhenny Company offered me the opportunity to continue my work, thus enabling me to really expand my botanical exploits. Now that I have the time and resources to explore the haunts of Jungle Gardens, some extremely interesting botanical discoveries have been made.
This blog is devoted to those discoveries. Here you will read about the rarest and the most unusual plants that occur in Jungle Gardens. Most of the plants discovered are exotic species that were brought to the gardens many decades ago. Some have been documented as having grown in the gardens for 100 years.
So, welcome to the Plants of Jungle Gardens! Enjoy the stories behind the discovery and identification of each of these plants.