Disney’s Animal Kingdom Horticulture Facts

Filed in: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrates animals in a big way, but it also tells a fascinating story about the diversity of all life — including the millions of plants populating the planet. It’s the first Disney theme park where the animal “cast” will eat the botanic “stage,” and it features plant “ambassadors” from every continent on Earth except Antarctica.

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom plant collection includes 600 species of trees, 350 species of grasses and 1,800 species of shrubs, vines, ferns, mosses, epiphytes and perennials.
  • More than 100,000 trees and more than 4 million individual grasses and shrubs have been planted. Thousands of the plants were grown by seed. Millions were grown by division and cuttings to create the park’s “palette.”
  • Seeds and shrubs were collected and shipped from as far away as Madagascar and Nepal.
  • The Disney’s Animal Kingdom tree with one of the longest Latin plant names — 29 letters in all — is the Schizolobium parahybum excelsum (shy zo low bee um para he bum ex cel sum), also known as the Bacurubu tree from Panama. This flowering tree can be seen on Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in the gorilla “valley” area.
  • Hundreds of flowering trees from nearly every tropical and subtropical region on Earth color Disney’s Animal Kingdom gardens, including: jacarandas, tabebuias, cassias, michellias, bauhinias, calliandras and tipuanas. Flowering trees and plants will be in bloom no matter what time of year guests visit.
  • Landscape designers traveled to more than 30 countries and 25 U.S. states for creative inspiration.
  • A Brazilian flowering tree — markhamia — normally grows as straight as a telephone pole in the rainforest. Grown from seed and planted in the park’s Pangani Forest areas, the tree grew straight up until it reached a shade canopy, then grew toward the light, making a sharp turn that left it resembling a giant stairstep.
  • Disney landscape experts have been collecting, growing and planting for more than 8 years to build Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Seeds were collected by Disney horticulturists, international seed collectors and botanists.
  • The largest tree replanted — an oak — tipped the scales at 92 tons and is located in Harambe village.
  • Elephants, giraffes, antelope and other creatures will eat and play with the theme park landscape, so designers have created a 94-acre “browse farm” to replace natural forage including acacia, hibiscus, mulberry and shrubs.
  • Plant materials were collected from more than 50 national and international sources.
  • 30 oak trees were moved and saved in two Walt Disney World Resort groves. The tallest trees moved and planted are more than 60 feet tall, some with canopies up to 80 feet wide. In all, more than 280 trees that grew up on the property remain there with their new plant neighbors.
  • Several mature “acacia” trees on the African savanna are 30-foot-tall Southern live oaks with close-cropped crewcuts. Authentic acacias were grown and planted from seeds brought back from Africa.
  • DinoLand U.S.A. is home to what is believed to be North America’s third-largest collection of cycads — Earth’s most ancient conifers — with more than 3,000 of the fern-like plants dating to the Cretaceous period. It also features 20 species of magnolias, descendants of the ancient angiosperms which have survived from the Cretaceous era.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom features hundreds of rare and endangered native plant species that now will have a safe, permanent home.