Friends of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide Bicentennial Conservatory
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Bicentennial Conservatory


Inside the Conservatory

The Bicentennial Conservatory is the largest single span conservatory in the southern hemisphere & one of the largest in the world.  It was opened in November 1989 & was built to celebrate Australia's Bicentenary in 1988.

The Building

Designed by South Australian architect Guy Maron, it has won many awards for architecture, innovative technology, tourism & landscape design.  the building is 100metres long, 47 metres wide & 27 metres high. The Conservatory was built to enable visitors to experience the unique & usually stunning rainforest environment in order to generate an understanding of the importance of tropical rainforests, & to highlight the need for their conservation.


The Birds

2 bird species have been introduced into the Bicentennial Conservatory:  

The White-browed Wood Swallow (Artamus supercilosus) inhabiting the upper tree canopy.  Research staff at Adelaide Zoo idenitifed the White-browed Wood Swallow as a predator of Palm Dart caterpillars.  In 1998, 5 adult birds were released into the Conservatory, resulting in a significant decrease in palm leaflet damage since. 

The ground-dwelling Noisy Pitta (Pitta versicolor), by disturbing the leaf litter at the surface, they assist in the release of nutrients for plant growth & help control ground level insects.  In 2004, 2 males were released into the Conservatory on loan from the Adelaide Zoo.  Listen for the distinctive 3-note "walk-to-work" tuneful calls of this highly colourful, yet well-camouflaged bird.


The Plants

Molineria capitulata (Weevil Lily) Dense clusters of yellow flowers or their dried remains can often be found at the base of the long palm-like leaves.  This unusual position for flowers attracts a pollinator that lives on the forest floor.

Angiopteris evecta (King Fern) This fern is especially notable because it is related to the ancient Gondwanan flora that grew on the Australian continent millions of years ago.  The giant fronds can reach over 5 metres in length & are among the largest in the world .  Look for the brown spore cases on the underside of the fronds.

Phaleria clerodendron  When in season, flowers or fruit can be found growing directly on the trunk& branches in an arrangement known as caulifllory.  This type of display is common in many tropical plants.  Although birds such as Cassowaries can safely eat the fruit, it is reputedly poisonous to humans.

Acalypha hispida (Red Hot Cat Tails) The shape, touch & colour of the attractive flowers give this plant its common name.  In Indonesia, a drink made from the roots was used as a traditional medicine to treat lung disease.


Opening Hours

Daily 10:00am 4:00pm (5:00pm during daylight saving).

FREE entry from April 2012


For Guided Walks (61 8) 8226 8803.

Noisy Pitta, Pitta versicolor

White-browed Wood Swallow, Artamus supercilosus

Molineria capitulata

Phaleria clerodendron

Acalypha hispida