Institute Institute Facilities
Garden with indicator plants

Garden with indicator plants

Between the university buildings at Herrenhäuser Str. 2 and 2A lies a garden whose diversity and colourfulness invite you to discover, explore and linger from spring to autumn. In 1976, Prof. Dr. Franz H. Meyer developed a teaching garden with location-indicating plants. The indicator values for moisture, reaction and nitrogen content of the soil developed by Prof. Dr. Heinz Ellenberg served as an ordering system.

Foto: Indicator plants garden Foto: Indicator plants garden Foto: Indicator plants garden
The indicator plant garden of the IUP in July 2017. Easy-to-read signs explain the indicator value combinations of the plant species on 24 beds.

For the planting of the indicator plant garden, wild-growing, predominantly perennial plant species with narrow site amplitudes were selected in Germany and compiled into 24 combinations of the previously mentioned indicator values.

Prostrate speedwell - Veronica prostrata

On the basis of this information, garden visitors can find out about the typical site preferences of all the species presented (in the 'open landscape', not in the garden!). Even though many plant species growing alone tolerate a wide range of different environmental conditions and thrive best with an average water and nutrient supply (auto-ecological optimum), the range of tolerated environmental conditions shifts and shrinks under competition with other species (syn-ecological optimum). This leads to the fact that we can distinguish, for example, drought and wetness pointers, acidity and lime pointers, leanness and nitrogen pointers.

Alpine aster - Aster alpinus

Rudolf Thinius, gardener at the Institute for Landscape Management and Nature Conservation from 1975 to 2006, created the garden. His successor Christiane Hausmann created raised beds filled with gravel and sand from 2006 onwards as a location for drought-tolerant plants; foils helped to establish moist to wet areas. The grid of slab paths is explained in a showcase; it demarcates the beds from one another and allows access to all species.


The plant material needed to establish the garden was supplied by the neighbouring Berggarten, the Botanical School Garden Burg, the wild perennial garden of the University of Veterinary Medicine and many botanical gardens from all over Germany. In addition, teachers and students brought and still bring plant species from their travels. Just five years after its foundation, the indicator plant garden was in a respectable condition and has since provided material for lectures, identification exercises and self-study.

Learning and working

Today, more than 500 species grow in the beds. About a third of them are on the Red List of endangered plant species in Lower Saxony. Around 100 other species can be found in the garden's edge area. Here, typical northern german habitats such as grey dune, salt marsh and moor are presented. The south-facing edge is home to species suitable for planting in sunny areas.

Identify plants

Since 2001, the Institute for Environmental Planning has participated with its indicator plant garden in the campaign  "Offene Pforte – Gärten in und um Hannover",  and school classes are also welcome guests. In 2010, the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) radio station visited and presented the indicator plant garden to its viewers. 

The indicator plant garden is open to all interested people for independent exploration on weekdays as long as the university buildings are open. It is accessed via the main entrance at Herrenhäuser Straße 2. Guided tours can be arranged.

Explanatory symbols of the indicator plant garden

Contact person

Dipl.-Ing. Christiane Hausmann
Dipl.-Ing. Christiane Hausmann

Scientific conception

Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Prasse
Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Prasse