Tinde van Andel

Tinde van Andel

As an ethnobotanist, I study traditional plant use. Together with several PhD students, postdocs and MSc students, I am involved in a number of research projects: Traditional rice varieties grown in the Guianas, Historical herbaria and botanical drawings in the Leiden treasure rooms, Wild food collection by hunter-gatherers in Cameroon.


Ethnobotany, historic collections, medicinal plants, ritual plants, Suriname, traditional rice, West and Central Africa, wild food plants

Prof. Dr. Tinde van Andel

Senior researcher Ethnobotany
Professor Ethnobotany (Wageningen University)
Professor History of Botany and Gardens (Leiden University)
Tropical Botany

+31 (0)71 751 9267 



Listening to the story behind a useful plant helps me to discover people’s unwritten history. Documenting traditional knowledge on wild food and local crop landraces helps us to understand how people have been survived on hunter-gathering and self-sufficient agriculture in the past centuries.

Within the Clusius chair at Leiden University, I am involved in the study of historic herbaria and botanical drawings, made by early scientists and explorers in the 16th, 17th and 18th century. These collections often include medicinal and otherwise useful plants from tropical countries. Examples are botanical drawings of medicinal plants, documented by VOC ship doctors in Ceylon, the book herbaria of the German explorer Leonhard Rauwolf, The Historia Naturalis Brasiliensis (1648) for Dutch Brazil, and several other historic herbaria made by anonymous botanists. 

In cooperation with the Biosystematics group at Wageningen University and several international partners, I do research on traditional rice cultivars grown by Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana. Genetic research on traditional rice cultivars can show the migration routes of people's and plants, and exchange of cultivars among different ethnic groups.

Documenting traditional rice varieties in the field


  • Traditional rice landraces grown by Aucan and Saramaccan Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana
  • Migration of taro (Colocasia esculenta) from Africa to the New World (with Ilaria Grimaldi)
  • Historic herbaria in the treasure room of Naturalis:
    • The En Tibi herbarium (1558)
    • Herbaria of Leonhard Rauwolf (1535-1596)
    • Herbaria Simone D'Oignies (ca. 1730)
    • Zierikzee herbarium (ca. 1720)
  • Ethnobotany of the Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (with Mariana de Campos Francozo)
  • Wild edible plants eaten by Baka people in southeast Cameroon (with Sandrine Gallois)



Several PhD students are active in the field of Ethnobotany under my supervision

    Research on Ver-O-Peso market, Belem. Picture: C.A. van der Hoeven


    In the

    All media coverage and interviews are posted on my website.


    Fieldwork in Cameroon. Picture: Thomas Heger

    Fieldwork among Baka people in southeast Cameroon. Picture Thomas Heger
    External video URL