: Work on the ‘Hortus Malabaricus' project that is being established by the Forest Department at its depot in Chaliyam is expected to be completed by January next, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom said on Wednesday after visiting the site of the garden project to review its progress.

The Ambassador of the Netherlands to India would be invited to inaugurate the garden, which is being set up on 40 acres under the supervision of Additional Forest Conservator S.P. Singh.

The garden will have a unique collection of the plant species mentioned in Hortus Malabaricus.

The plant species, some of them rare and a few others suspected to be extinct, are being collected from various places. Nearly 500 plant species have already been planted.

The project would also have an aquarium for native fish species, and a snake park. The Minister said the garden would emerge as a research centre of national importance.

Hortus Malabaricus (meaning Garden of Malabar) is a treatise on plant wealth of Kerala compiled by Hendrik van Rheede, who was Governor of Dutch Administration in Kochi.

The book, originally writer in Latin and published in Amsterdam, has since been translated into Malayalam by K.S. Manilal, former Professor of Botany, Calicut University.