The garden is the first national botanical garden established in 1929 in China. In 1954, it was received and reconstructed by Eastern China Research Station, Institute of Plant Taxonomy Academia Sinica and renamed as Nanjing Botanical Garden Mem. Sun Yat-Sen, Academia Sinica. By this time, the garden and the institute of botany have merged into a single whole. After 1970, the ownership of the garden belonged to Jiangsu Province. It has under dual leadership of Jiangsu Province and Chinese Academy of Science since 1993.
The garden is located in the eastern suburb of Nanjing , a National Scenic Area. With the Purple Mountain behind and the Qian Lake in front, the garden lies beside the ancient city wall of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the famous Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum. The area of the garden is totally 186 ha. with mild climate, luxuriant vegetation, 1awns, hills and lakes. It is both a fascinating scenic spot and a mysterious plant kingdom.
Through hard efforts of several generations, the garden has turned into a well-known modern comprehensive botanical garden that incorporates scientific research, botanical education and tourism. The garden has a living collection of about 4500 taxa and is divided into Northern Garden and Southern garden. As a research center on central and northern subtropical floras of China, the Northern Garden consists of 10 specialized gardens and 700, 000 sheets of herbarium specimens. With collection, introduction, development, utilization and protection of plant resources as its major target, the Northern Garden has gained rich achievements in the research on plant taxonomy, medicinal plants, economic plants, ornamental plants, plant phytochemistry, environmental plants and biodiversity protection. With Tropical Palace as its centre, the Southern Garden consists of specialized garden such as Garden for the Visually Handicapped Grass Garden, Aquatic Plant Garden, Rock Garden, Bamboo Garden, Recreational Forest Section, Spore Plant Section, City Landscaping Plant Section Economic Plant Section and Plant Maze.
Emphasizing on international exchange and cooperation, the garden has set up an exchange program of seeds, plants, specimens and books with over 600 agencies of more than 60 countries in the world. The sister relationship of botanical gardens was established with Missouri Botanical Garden USA, which was the first one in China. Friendly relationship with Botanical Garden of UBC in Canada and the Botanical Garden, University of Tokyo, Japan was also set up. NBG was the first botanical garden in China who joined IUCN and became a member of Threatened Plant Committee of IUCN. The garden held both International Symposium on Botanical Garden( which was the first one in Asia) and Ⅺ International Association of Botanic Gardens Conference successfully.
Combining scientific contents with artistic appearance, the garden is also a national popular science education base, and receives over 300, 000 visitors both domestic and overseas each year.