Botanical Highlights at Trauttmansdorff – Not To Be Missed!

Discover Trauttmansdorff’s biggest, oldest, most beautiful and most exotic botanical highlights.

The oldest grapevine in the world (the Versoaln), a 700-year-old olive tree, a wide array of plant collections and various flowering exotics turn a visit to the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle into an unforgettable journey through more than eighty garden landscapes from all over the globe.

Wollemia nobilis: straight out of prehistoric times, directly into the Fern Glen of Forests of the World

Wollemia nobilis

In 1994, Australian rangers discovered a botanical sensation in a hidden ravine: nearly one hundred copies of Wollemia nobilis, which was believed to have been extinct at the time. The large number of fossils proves that the conifer was dispersed throughout the world 65 million years ago. It is very likely that this sensational discovery actually represents the last living members of this genus. It is unusual that all copies have an identical genetic makeup – that is, are clones. In order to protect the plants from disease, the location of the approximately 100 copies of the natural population is a closely guarded secret. An international program for the propagation and rearing of this interesting plant, set up in 1999, ensures its continued survival.

In April 2006, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle became the first botanical garden in Italy to exhibit a specimen of the rare conifer. It is located in the Fern Glen, together with other living fossils such as Ginkgo biloba and Metasequoia glyptostroboides.

This acquisition was made possible through South Tyrol’s Sparkasse Foundation. Trauttmansdorff made an agreement with the Australian Government in order to explore the hardiness of the plant: the conifer spends winters outdoors, and will be replaced by the region if there is any frost damage.

Tree Rhododendron in Forests of the World


This old and very beautiful specimen of Rhododendron arboreum, which is 5 to 6 meters high, was brought from Lake Maggiore (Como, Italy) to the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle on special transport. In spring, nearly 400 different varieties of rhododendron enchant visitors to Forests of the World.

A 700-Year-Old Olive Tree in the Sun Gardens

Olive Tree

The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle is home to a 700-year-old olive tree from Sardinia. Weighing an unbelievable 5.8 tonnes when it was planted, the tree required a special vehicle in order to be transported. The circumference of the ancient tree is 3 meters; its diameter at breast height is 93 cm. It has the gnarled, striking silhouette that we associate with an ancient olive tree. Olive trees rank among the longest-living crop plants.

The largest and oldest vine in the world (Katzenzungen Castle in Prissiano)


In 2006, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle have taken over patronage of the Versoaln, the world's largest and probably oldest grapevine in the world. At the foot of Katzenzungen Castle in Prissiano, about 15 km away from the gardens, the canopy of this 350-year-old grapevine covers an area of 300 m². A grapevine in Maribor, in Slovenia, is of a similarly old age.

This specimen is an indigenous (autochthonous) South Tyrolean grape. The main region of cultivation Versoaln (also called Versailles) was once the steep vineyards on the slopes of the Venosta (Vinschgau) Valley. The wine is greenish in color, and has a fruity flavor and fine texture with marked fine acidity.

Rice Paddy Field and Tea Plantation

Rice Paddy Field

East Asian cultural history is vividly illustrated here: there is an ornamental rice paddy just below the castle, a tea plantation, cherry blossom trees and a Japanese garden with characteristic water, stone and plant elements.

Flowering Clay Walls

Flowering Clay Walls

This very original planting, in every imaginable color, is unique in the world. The area where the Flowering Clay Wall is now located was originally a clay pit. Over the course of construction work, a slope was created. Shortly before the opening of the gardens, there was a dangerous landslide as a result of heavy rainfall: the slope cracked apart and came down in sections.

This was actually a blessing in disguise, because it granted an opportunity to create a large-scale project: visions of a green, planted hillside or hanging garden began to take shape. A special and very innovative construction method – utilizing a complex layering technique known as reinforced earth – was used to stabilize the huge masses of soil. Maintenance of the Flowering Clay Walls is as elaborate as was the project itself. Work must be done several times every season in order to upkeep the perennial planting – this work even includes gardeners rappelling down the steep slopes on ropes.

Flowering Meadow

Flowering Meadow

Below the castle, you’ll find an enchanting meadow with a wide array of colorful flowers. These herbaceous perennial flowers bloom over the entire period of vegetation. The meadow is in constant flux over the course of the seasons: a sea of tulips blossoms in the spring, followed by poppies and irises. Summer brings the flowering of Gaura, montbretia, and giant hyssop; asters and Sedum make for colorful accents in autumn.



The Lemon Terrace creates a La Dolce Vita atmosphere – a perfect spot to relax for a while. In addition to the flowering and fruit-bearing lemon and orange trees, there are exotic kumquats, tangy citrons and spectacular Buddha’s hand trees.

Sage Collection


Trauttmansdorff has Italy’s largest publicly accessible sage collection. The collection comprises an incredible 154 species and varieties from different continents. While sage is commonly used in the kitchen, some species are used only for decoration. Many of the sage varieties are not hardy and must be replanted every year.

Hydrangea Collection

Hydrangea Collection

Trauttmansdorff’s collection of hydrangeas, which comprises approximately 280 different varieties, blooms in summer. Large, lush flowerheads are interspersed among the flat inflorescences: the hues range from white to pink to deep blue

Succulents from the Semidesert

Succulents from the Semidesert

On Trauttmansdorff’s Desert Hill, you’ll find cacti taller than a man and other succulents such as African aloes and spurges – as well as North American agaves. The entire area is covered in the winter months, keeping safe from frost.