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Come along as we embark upon a new adventure through some of Africa’s lushest landscapes.

The beauty of the tropics flourishes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens as we get ready to unveil Tropical Forest Congo, an exhibit highlighting some of Africa’s lushest landscapes. The result of years of research culminating in a trip to Cameroon, where Curator of Horticulture Ben Dunigan and Exhibit Coordinator Jordyn Melino acquired knowledge and inspiration by visiting the region’s most breathtaking natural areas and learning from its indigenous tribes, the installation will open on Feb. 7.

For the displays, more than 60 percent of the Tropical Forest Conservatory plant life will be changed out to feature many varieties of flora never before showcased at Phipps. Among the specimens, sourced from nurseries throughout the U.S., as well as from seeds procured from Nigeria, are sausage trees (Kigelia africana) — known for their fragrant red flowers that, when pollinated, form large tubular fruits that can weigh up to 22 pounds — and the Napolean hat plant (Napoleonaea imperialis), which bears passionflower-like blooms on its trunk.

Tropical Forest Congo will also incorporate education stations, including a market displaying regional foods; a replica of a small dwelling that one would see in a village built by the Baka, a tribe that resides deep in the forest; and several kiosks exhibiting tools and equipment often used by botany researchers in the field. Additionally, the Special Events Hall will be graced by a façade designed to resemble a palace in which a king of the southwestern Cameroon Bamileke tribe would reside, complete with ornately decorated wooden columns. Beaded artifacts, such as ceremonial elephant masks, and stones carved by local artist Richard Hower will be on view, too.

Two photo displays will complement the exhibit as well. The first, located in the Center for Sustainable Landscapes Green Gallery, will include images documenting From the Ground Up, a partnership between Phipps and Gidan Makama Museum in Kano, Nigeria that engaged 31 high school students in a collaborative project focused on food, nutrition and culture. The second, situated in the hallway behind Special Events Hall in the Tropical Forest Conservatory, will feature photos taken by Jordyn and Ben during their research trip.

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Photos © Tim Hammill; Paul g. Wiegman; Denmarsh Photography, Inc.



Other Featured Exhibits & Events

Two More Nights of Winter Lights
Friday, Jan. 23 and 30, 2015
5 – 11 p.m.
Take one more walk through the dazzling light displays in our Outdoor and Children’s Discovery Gardens while our indoor spaces transform for the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show.
Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show
Jan. 17 – March 1, 2015
Chase away the winter blues with the spectacular sight of orchid specimens arranged in beds and baskets, and see unique selections from our permanent collection of tropical bonsai.
Tropical Sundays
Sundays, Feb 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2015
Wear a tropical shirt and receive 50 percent off admission to relax under the palm trees, sway to music of Matthew Mazza and Carmen Bruno of the Tropical Sands Steel Band, and taste tropical fruit.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting Feb. 5, 2015
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Tropical Forest Congo Opening Festival
Feb. 7, 2015
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Be among the first to see our new Tropical Forest Congo exhibit as our guest at a special opening celebration. Family-friendly activities include a storytelling performance, African-inspired food sampling, cultural crafts and a pot-a-plant station — all free with Phipps admission.
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Feb. 13, 2015
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
Hothouse Happy Hours
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
6 – 8 p.m.
Join us on Feb. 19 as we partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) to kick off Hothouse Happy Hours, a series of events for young professionals, featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine, inspired bites and dynamic special guests.
Seed, Perennial and Seedling Swap: 2015 Garden Season Opener
Feb. 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main
Join Phipps and Grow Pittsburgh at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland to swap seeds and plants, learn tips and get ready for a great season of gardening. Bring seeds you saved from last year and take home an exciting selection to grow in your garden this year. Admission is free to the public.
Garden Railroad
Closes March 1, 2015
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you back in time to the California Gold Rush — complete with water features, interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants.