1st Edition

Planting a City in the Tropical Andes Plants and People in Bogotá, 1880 to 1920

By Diego Molina Copyright 2025
    248 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book reveals how the 19th Century modernisation of Bogotá led to a transformation in the social role of plants – showing how this city located in the high altitudes of the tropical Andes turned into a ‘floristic island’ formed by native, introduce, wild and cultivated plants.

    Urbanisation is one of the main forces behind biodiversity loss. Paradoxically, the expansion of cities has made urban environment spaces with a greater numbers of plant species compared to their surrounding areas. Planting a City in the Tropical Andes takes a multidisciplinary approach to shed light on the cultural and ecological mechanisms that have transformed modern cities into what can be described as ‘floristic islands’. By drawing upon a wide array of historical sources, this book explains how the 19th-century modernization of Bogotá (Colombia), led to the replacement of traditional botanical practices with technical knowledge, which in turn endowed the city with a unique floristic inventory. Through a unique botanical perspective on Latin American urban history, this book uncovers how capitalist dynamics in Bogotá transformed plants into providers of clean air and water and their use in the urban landscape contributed to the cultivation of disciplined citizenry. Placing plants at the forefront of its narrative, the book offers an original contribution to the underexplored history of horticulture in tropical Latin America. It serves as a compelling example of how the creative and conflicting forces of the Anthropocene have forged new environments and previously unseen relationships between people and plants.

    This volume will be of great use to scholars and students interested in social history, urban environmental histories and cultural history.

    1. The Genesis of Bogotá’s Mixed Flora  2. Urban Spaces, Cultivated Plants and People  3. The ‘invisible’ Flora  4. From colonial squares to hygienic gardens  5. The gardeners  6. The plants  7. New and disciplined relationships with Plants  8. A treeless and desolate land  9. The alamedas and the liberty tree  10. Eucalyptus: the all-purpose tree


    Diego Molina is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is a botanist who turned to historical geography to understand the changing relationships between people and plants. Before becoming a British Academy Fellow at the RHUL, he was a Rachel Carson Fellow in Munich.