Tropical botany

Amazone woud

The tropics contain the overwhelming majority of Earth’s plant diversity. Describing species, understanding their distributions, evolutionary and ecological relationships, and recognizing their role in human societies – themes in the Tropical Botany research group – are strategic building blocks for global plans on nature conservation and sustainable use.

Our programmes
& research themes

Naturalis Biodiversity Center is the holder of one of the largest natural history collections in the world, including more than 6,000,000 plant specimens from tropical areas. Our research group makes use of this vast legacy. We combine information extracted from the collections with newly generated data, such as DNA sequences, genome skims, and species inventories, to answer questions about phylogenetic relationships among taxa, plant diversity patterns, biogeography, and plant use. We increase the reach of our taxonomic research by contributing to national and regional Floras. Discovery, delimitation, description, classification, and cataloging of species are therefore core tasks carried out by the group that increase the quality and add value to the institute’s collection. Our work is focused in (but not limited to) the tropics, partly because of historical and expertise reasons, but also because in tropical regions our knowledge of species, their geography, and evolution is perhaps most needed. 


As a research group we focus on:

  • Systematics
  • Evolution & ecology
  • Floras
  • Ethnobotany
  • The Amazon & South East Asia
  • Diversity, Ecology and conservation of the Amazonian Tree Flora (Hans ter Steege)
  • Systematics and Phylogeny of Euphorbiaceae, with the main focus on Malesia (Peter van Welzen)
  • Systematics and Phylogeny of Neotropical Myristicaceae (Sylvia Mota de Oliveira)
  • Systematics of Poaceae in Malesia (Leni Duistermaat)
  • Heukels’ Flora van Nederland (Leni Duistermaat)
  • Invasive plant species in the Europe (Leni Duistermaat)
  • Historic herbaria (Tinde van Andel)
  • Traditional plant use in Suriname, Brazil, Cameroon, including Rice  (Tinde van Andel)
  • Tropical Flora Programs, E-Floras (Sylvia Mota de Oliveira, Peter van Welzen)
  • Biogeography of Malesia (Peter van Welzen)
  • Megafauna & megafruits (Renske Onstein) 
  • Plant-animal interactions (Renske Onstein) 
  • Trait Evolution and Convergence (Renske Onstein) 
  • Plant-microbial interactions (Angelica Cibrian Jaramillo) 
  • Integrative taxonomy and evolutionary genomics of Cycads (Angelica Cibrian Jaramillo) 
  • Genomics of crop wild relatives and their crops(Angelica Cibrian Jaramillo) 


tropisch bos

Some of our
current topics

Large water pennywort

Invasive species

In recent decades, the Dutch flora has seen a sharp increase in exotic species. We call them invasive species or invasives when they cause nuisance by a strong expansion or densification of their area. The nuisance of invasive species can consist of…
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Weda, a new genus of Euphorbiaceae

Material collected during an environmental impact study for a proposed nickel mine along Weda Bay on Halmahera in the North Moluccas of Indonesia revealed one unknown Euphorbiaceae with a very unique combination of characteristics. Based on the…
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& publications

Flower field

Blumea journal

Blumea is an international electronic-only journal on the biodiversity, evolution and biogeography of plants, including systematics, floristics, phylogeny, morphology and anatomy.
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Topobea Parasitica

Flora of the Guianas

The Flora of the Guianas is a long term project dedicated to the taxonomic treatment of all plant species occurring within the borders of French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. I have been making efforts to disclose its content in a free and open platform.
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Flora of the Netherlands

We provide identifications of Dutch vascular plants for both the layman and professional organizations. Our program ‘Nature of the Netherlands’ serves to make a significant contribution to the knowledge of and appreciation for the natural environment in…
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Logo flora Malesiana

Flora Malesiana

Flora Malesiana (FM) is an international flora project aiming to name, describe and inventory the complete vascular plant flora of Malesia, the region including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Papua New…
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Who do we
work with?

We collaborate in extensive international networks but also with our colleagues within Naturalis, such as the Sector Collections and most other groups. The collections and evolutionary systematics are the foundation of our work.