The Jardin des plantes (French for "Garden of the Plants"), also known as the Jardin des plantes de Paris (French: [ʒaʁdɛ̃ dɛ plɑ̃t də paʁi]) when distinguished from other jardins des plantes in other cities, is the main botanical garden in France. The term Jardin des plantes is the official name in the present day, but it is in fact an elliptical form of Jardin royal des plantes médicinales ("Royal Garden of the Medicinal Plants"), which is related to the original purpose of the garden back in the 17th century.
Headquarters of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (National Museum of Natural History), the Jardin des plantes is situated in the 5th arrondissement, Paris, on the left bank of the river Seine, and covers 28 hectares (280,000 m²). Since 24 March 1993, the entire garden and its contained buildings, archives, libraries, greenhouses, ménagerie (a zoo), works of art, and specimens' collection are classified as a national historical landmark in France (labelled monument historique).
Founded in 1626, the garden was not planted by Guy de La Brosse, Louis XIII's physician, until 1635 as a medicinal herb garden. It was originally known as the Jardin du Roi. In 1640 it opened to the public. After a period of decline, Jean-Baptiste Colbert took administrative control of the gardens. Dr. Guy-Crescent Fagon was appointed in 1693, and he surrounded himself with a team of experienced botanists, including Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Antoine de Jussieu, Antoine Laurent de Jussieu and his son Adrien-Henri.
The holdings include 6,963 specimens of the herbarium collection of Joseph Tournefort, donated on his death to the Jardin du Roi.The Comte de Buffon became the curator in 1739 and he expanded the gardens greatly, adding a maze, the labyrinth, which remains today. In 1792 the Royal Menagerie was moved to the gardens from Versailles.