herbarium studies are the main research area at the Garden: plant
systematics and related fields such as floristics, phytogeography,
phylogeny, comparative morphology, pollen & spores and vegetation
studies are all at the issue. They concentrate on temperate Europe,
especially Belgium, and the paleotropics, especially Central Africa.
All plant groups are studied: algae, bryophytes, fungi including
lichens and vascular plants.
With its systematic
investigation, the Garden contributes to the drawing up of the global
inventory of biodiversity. But also related disciplines such as
floristics and plant geography get a chance.
temperate regions, the systematic knowledge of plants is already quite
well-known, nevertheless important work remains to be done. Maintaining
the floristic inventory up to date and to follow the spread of species
is a priority for nature conservation. Also alien plant species are studied to see if they would become an invasive threat to our indigenous flora.
contrast to that of temperate regions, the tropics have a less
well-known flora. The Garden already works for some hundred years on
the flora of Central Africa. On a regular base, new species are
circumscribed and receive a name.
Actually freshwater and brackish water algae are being studied. An
international reputation was built on with the study of algae from arid
and semi-arid regions in Africa and the Middle East.
The Belgian hepatics and mosses have been studied extensively. Much
work was done on Bryum and Pohlia, especially the propaguliferous
species. This stimulated interest in propaguliferous species by other
Belgian bryologists. For conservation and monitoring purposes bryophyte
diversity in and outside the nature reserves is compared and
conservation tools such as Red Lists are developed. Problems with
invasive species are also studied.
Systematics, ecology and floristics of different groups of fungi in
Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg but also in Congo and Benin
are being studied.
and morphological systematics of different groups of lichens e.g.
Arthoniales are studied. Floristic studies are also undertaken in
Africa, Antarctica, Europe (mainly Belgium and northern France) and
(ferns and seed plants)
of the Garden have named, described and classified thousands of plant
species from central Africa since the 19th century, and we continue
that effort. Apart from that, monographic attention is given to special
interest families, at present Acanthaceae and Rubiaceae.
Research on temperate representatives concentrates on special interest
groups (e.g. orchids, water plants, invasive species, ...). Much
attention is given to keeping the floristic inventory of Belgium up to
There is a scanning electron microscope (with low vacuum equipment; JEOL 5800LV)at the disposal of the research at the Garden.
In the molecular lab, scientists and technicians daily perform DNA
amplification by PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) and DNA
Certain types of craftsmanship
are also maintained. Especially the tradition of botanical illustration
is still very much kept alive in the Garden. Collaborating with our
researchers, our artists, O. Van de Kerckhove and A. Fernandez, produce
accurate, world class illustrations whose beauty transcends the borders
of time, science and culture.
drawings and paintings, there is a rich collection of approximately
20,000 slides. The largest part concerns fungi, mostly those of
tropical Africa, plants grown in our own collections and plants and
vegetation types of the tropics.