A botanical garden is a permanent installation of live plants that is open to the public and whose purpose is scientific research, education, conservation and display. Botanical gardens are distinguished from pleasure gardens by their scientific, rather than aesthetic, mission.
Botanical gardens date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The physic gardens of Italy were dedicated to the study of plants, particularly their medicinal properties. These study gardens spread to universities and apothecaries across Europe. Their emphasis on knowledge, rather than beauty, commerce or utility, distinguished them from the kinds of gardens that came previously.
As of 2015, botanical gardens often include research facilities, seed banks and educational programs. They also team with wider conservation efforts to protect threatened species of plant.