| XTBG has devoted itself to conserve the tropical rare and endangered plants of China and nearby countries plants since 1959, but the number of collected plant species was about 4,000 species in the garden due to various reasons by 1999. With the deterioration of ecology environment and disappearance of biology diversity, the Chinese Academy of Science and Yunnan Provincial government jointly launched a project named Tropical Plant Resource Conservation and Sustainable use in XTBG from 2000 to 2004. The priorities for plant conservation are: rare and endangered plants, endemic plant species, flagship and keystone species, plant species with high scientific value and potential economic value as wild and relatives of cultivated crops, fruits, and medicinal plants. Now, about 10,000 species of plant collected from tropics of China and nearby countries such as Laos, Myanmar, Northern Thailand are preserved in 35 living collections e.g. palms, medicinal plants, bamboos, tropical fruit collection, wild orchid garden, wild Ginger garden, Cycads garden, seed bank, and tropical rainforest in the garden. Among them, more than 4,000 species are economic plants, 791 species of plant are rare and endangered plants listed into National Red Lists of Plant of China. Some living collections have a significant role for conservation and research, for example, over 400 palm species have been collected and cultivated in palm collection, 24 genera and 106 species of aroid have been collected since 2001, which comprise 54% of the total species in China and 77% of those in Xishuangbanna, which is the largest collection of wild aroids in China. The first Dracaena collection in China was set up, and 60 species and varieties grown in 1.06 ha have been preserved. Also 86 wild ginger species with 17 genera including some rare and endangered species as Etlingera yunnanensis are preserved in the ginger garden.
It is one of the botanical gardens in the world to have over 10,000 plant species cultivated outdoors.