Significant events in the history of the Herbarium

Carl von Martius (1840-1876)


Transfer of the herbarium AWH (Henri Van Heurck Museum, Antwerp) on permanent loan to BR. With Van Heurck’s diatom collection (7,500 samples or preparations) and a worldwide herbarium (ca. 300,000 specimens, incorporating the Sieber and Reichenbach collections).


participation in the African Plant Initiative and the Latin American Plant Initiative, through which the ca 50,000 nomenclatural types of vascular plants in BR are databases and imaged. These comprise a first core for the virtual herbarium BR.


Through legacy and purchase, acquisition of a number of important private herbaria of Belgian botanists and amateurs: Serge Depasse (2001), J.-E. de Langhe (2002), Norbert Cnops (2002), Jacques Duvigneaud (2002), Georges Parent (2004-2007) and Eddy Jacques (2006). Mostly European Flora, and considerably enlarging the set of European mediterranean plants at BR (e.g. Parent’s materials from the Greek mountains).


Donation of Theo Arts' herbarium of more than 35,000 Bryophytes by his family and acquisition of about 50,000 Bryophytes in the herbarium of I. Douin.


About 90,000 specimens of the herbarium of the Carnoy Institute (LV) are given by the Catholic University of Leuven, including Wilhelm Schimper's collections from Ethiopia (specimen example: 841948); the original herbarium of Charles Baguet (historical specimens from Belgium) and the mainly American collection of the Reverend John Herman Wibbe.


Acquisition of 50,000 Bryophytes from the herbaria of Dr. Jean Louis De Sloover and Brother Onraedt (20,000 Bryophytes).


Acquisition of the private batological herbarium of J.Van Winkel (more than 20,000 Rubus specimens from Belgium and Western Europe).


By legacy, the Myxomycetes herbarium of Mrs. N.E. Nannenga-Bremekamp (worldwide; 14,296 specimens) was deposited in the Garden.


The mycological data are being digitized. More than 145,000 specimens and more than 27,000 names are in the database at the moment.


Acquisition of the herbarium of P. Sotiaux (more than 30,000 specimens).


Building of a new herbarium wing to house the collections of non-vascular cryptogams.


Transfer to the herbarium building in the Bouchout domain (collections of the department Bryophyta-Thallophyta in 1974, those of the department Spermatophyta-Pteridophyta in 1975).


Publication of a list of endangered and rare vascular plants of Belgium (Delvosalle, Demaret, Lawalrée and Lambinon), based on the comparison of herbarium specimens and recent chorological information; one of the first 'Red Lists' on the European continent (if not the first).


Establishment of two research departments, 'Spermatophyta-Pteridophyta' and 'Bryophyta-Thallophyta' responsible for the curation of the vascular plant herbaria and the herbaria of non-vascular cryptogams.


Acquisition by the state of the Bouchout Domain (93 hectares) from the Royal Family to constitute a new location for the Botanic Garden; the herbarium and library building in the Bouchout domain was finished in 1958.


Was no doubt the most intensive period for the botanical exploration of Congo, mainly due to the activity of two institutes. The INEAC (Institut National pour l'Etude Agronomique du Congo) had a botany department undertaking a global botanical inventory, with several research stations throughout the country (Luki, Mulungu, Yangambi etc). It was carried out by numerous collectors, to name a few Devred, Gilbert, A. Léonard, J. Léonard, Pierlot. Among these Jean Louis (specimen example: 837825) no doubt assembled, from 1935 to 1939, the best collection from the Congo Basin (17,000 specimens with very complete labels, all represented by two sheets in BR). The Institut des Parcs Nationaux du Congo on the other hand made a systematic exploration of the National Parks (collectors inter alia de Witte, de Saeger, Lebrun specimen example: 837823).

In this period the mycological studies of M. Beeli culminated in the first 17 issues of the Flore iconographique de champignons du Congo (now Flore illustrée des champignons d'Afrique centrale) and R.L. Steyaert made a collection of African material (e.g. phytopatological material and the genera Pestalotia, Monochaetia and Ganoderma).


Herbarium of the Congo Museum (Tervuren) transferred to the Garden, including inter alia the collections of Corbisier-Baland (specimen example: 837831).


Collection Martin Martens (Catholic University of Leuven) was given by Pierre Martens it contains many Galeotti specimens).


Building of two new herbarium rooms and transformation of the basement into herbarium room. Note that the report 1925 mentioned: '... les armoires destinées à contenir l'herbier deviennent insuffisantes. Pour certaines familles ... les disposer sur les tables ou les armoires où ils se couvrent de poussière'.


On the advice of Maurice Beeli, who made many systematic studies about African Fungi himself, Mrs. Goossens-Fontana started collecting African Fungi, adding notes and water-colours (more than 900). This is now one of our most important collections of macro-fungi.


Acquisition of the private herbarium of Alfred Cogniaux (5251 specimens: 1263 Cucurbitaceae, 3997 Melastomataceae and 11 orchids), but the bulk of orchid fragments collected by him probably was acquired later or not counted (specimen example: 839028).


Acquisition of the private herbarium Van den Bossche ('Herbarium Horti Thenensis'; 12,990 specimens). Information in De Wildeman, Icon. horti then. & Pl. nov. horti then. (Taxonomic Literature entries 1429 & 1434).


Summary of the early botanical exploration of Congo in the 'Sylloge Fl. Congol'. (see Taxonomic Literature entry 1595).


Division of the section herbarium into two sections, phanerogams and ferns under De Wildeman, cryptogams and plant diseases under Paul Nypels; the sections were united again in 1909.


E. De Wildeman and Th. Durand published important African mycological studies based on the material of A. Dewèvre, H. Vanderyst, ... This material regroups more than 450 taxa, about 400 of them are new for science.


New herbarium building inaugurated.


Publication, by the same Emile De Wildeman and Théophile Durand, of a compilation of the contents of the Herb. Belg., the Prodrome de la flore Belge (2 volumes of cryptogams and 1 volume of vascular plants).


Alfred Dewèvre (specimen example: 839021) was charged with the very first official mission by the Independent Congo State for a botanical exploration; his journey should have taken two years, but he returned earlier due to health problems, and died in the Lower Congo before he could embark; his collection (about 1200 numbers) remained unlabelled until the rediscovery of his original field notes in 1965.


Théophile Durand and Emile De Wildeman are charged with the study of the flora of the Congo.


Frans Hens, a painter from Antwerp, was the first Belgian to collect plant specimens in the Congo (the exploration of which had begun with the Norwegian, Christian Smith in 1816, followed by many British and Germans, e.g. Cameron, Schweinfurth, Büttner, Pogge); other early Belgian explorers of the Congo include Fernand Demeuse (1891-1893; thousand of his specimens were however lost in a shipwreck), father Justin Gillet (1893-1943), Emile Laurent (1893 and 1895-1896; specimen example: 837806).


Establishment of the Independent Congo State; agreement with its state secretary Baron van Eetvelde to assemble herbarium specimens from the Congo in the Garden.


Elie Marchal, the first official mycologist of the Garden, starts his fungal studies, especially on Ascomycetes. Many new species are being described.


Buildings and properties of the Société purchased, through the intervention of B. Dumortier, by the Belgian government to become the Jardin Botanique de l'Etat / Rijksplantentuin'. In 1871 the famous 'Herbarium Martii' (300,000 specimens belonging to 60,000 species, specimen example: 838990), acquired by the Belgian government the previous year) was incorporated in the herbarium (from then onwards the Jardin Botanique de l'Etat / Rijksplantentuin' was organized in three sections: living collections, herbarium, and plant products)

c. 1840-1858

Directorship of the Société to H. Galeotti, botanical explorer of Mexico; parts of his collection of Mexican plants were purchased by the Société after his death (specimen example 839121).


Change of the name of the Society into Société Royale d'Horticulture de Belgique (sometimes cited as Société Royale de Flore).


Establishment, in Brussels of the Koninklijke Maatschappij van kruid-, bloem- en boomkweekerije der Nederlanden (Royal Society for Horticulture and Arboriculture of the Netherlands), under Dutch rule, not only a a botanical garden was constructed but also, a botanical library and a herbarium. Collections in our herbarium marked with the stamp 'Herb. Hort. Bruxell.' (e.g. the 'Reliquiae mailleanae', specimen example 839025) might well date from acquisitions between 1826 and 1870 through no precise information has been located.

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