Aleida Offerhaus

Aleida Offerhaus

Plants communicate and dried plants need a little help making themselves understood. Naturalis harbours valuable dried plant collections, several of them dating from the early 18th century, most of them anonymous. With plants coming in from around the world, botany was ‘hot’. From 1710 onwards Herman Boerhaave was a central figure in the discipline of botany in the Republic and in our research we want to present a picture of the Leiden Hortus botanicus in the first half of the 18th century via the dried plant specimens that have been handed down to us.



Herbarium; botany; Leiden; Boerhaave; gardeners; Holland; The Dutch republic; Van Royen; Ligtvoet


Drs. Aleida Offerhaus

PhD student and Guest researcher

Tropical botany


Historical botany

With this research we want to establish a connection between historic plant specimens that survived in their dried state and the world that lies behind  introducing, cultivating and collecting them.

Dried plant specimens in historic collections contain tangible evidence of the gardens where they were originally cultivated. Some gardens are now derelict, others have changed beyond recognition with only their historic collections testifying to their former splendour. After more than 400 years the Leiden Hortus botanicus still is a vibrant garden with a collection of living plants, even though its collection focus shifted in the course of time. Historically speaking it is interesting to look at the composition of the collection in the 18th century, but also at the way in which plants were introduced and cultivated. Up till recent, gardeners, responsible for cultivating plants and the upkeep of the garden, were more or less invisible. Our research aims to rectify this.

Salvia viridis (L 142255) collected and described by Boerhaave

Key publications

Offerhaus A, De Haas E, Porck H, Kardinaal A, Ek R, Pokorni O, Van Andel T. The Zierikzee Herbarium: contents and origins of an enigmatic 18th Herbarium. Blumea 66(1):1-52.

Offerhaus A, Stefanaki A, Van Andel T. Forthcoming 2022 May. Not just a Garden of Simples: Arranging the Growing Floristic Diversity in the Leiden Botanical Garden (1594-1740): Chapter 4 in 'Medical Botany in Pre-Modern Times: Tradition and Innovation' (De Gruyter).

Offerhaus A, Porck H, Kardinaal A, Stefanaki A, Van Andel T. Forthcoming 2022 Jul. The d’ Oignies herbarium: contents and origins of an enigmatic 18th Herbarium.

Offerhaus A, Stefanaki A, Van Andel T. Forthcoming 2022 Jul. The true 'Boerhaave herbarium': an Analysis of the Specimens of Herman Boerhaave contained in the Van Royen Collection at Naturalis.