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
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.
- 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)
- Stefanaki, A.; Thijsse, G.; van Uffelen, G.; Eurlings, M.C.M.; van Andel, T.R.2018. The En Tibi herbarium, a 16th century Italian treasure. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society.
- Grimaldi, I.M., S. Muthukumaran; G. Tozzi; A. Anastasi; P.J. Matthews; N. Boivin; T.R. Van Andel. 2018. Literary evidence for taro in the ancient Mediterranean: a chronology of names and uses in a multilingual world. PLoS ONE 13(6): e0198333.
- Vorstenbosch, T., de Zwarte, I., Duistermaat, L., Andel, T.R. van. 2017. Famine food of vegetal origin consumed in the Netherlands during World War II. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 13:63.
- Levis, C., F.R.C. Costa, F. Bongers, M. Peña-Claros, C.R. Clement, A.B. Junqueira, E.G. Neves, … T.R. van Andel…. H. ter Steege. 2017. Persistent effects of pre-Columbian plant domestication on Amazonian forest composition. Science 355 (6328): 925-931.
- van Andel, T.R.; R.S. Meyer, S.A. Aflitos, J.A. Carney, M. Veltman, D. Copetti, J. Flowers, R.M. Havinga, H. Maat, M.D. Purugganan, R.A.Wing & M.E. Schranz. 2016. Tracing ancestor Rice of Suriname Maroons back to its African origin. Nature Plants 2 (10): 16149.
Several PhD students are active in the field of Ethnobotany under my supervision
- Mireia Alcantara Rodriguez (Archeology, Leiden University) ERC Brasiliae project
- Bob Jia (Naturalis, Leiden University) Chinese Materia Medica
- Charlotte van 't Klooster (LUMC, Leiden University) Plant use among Saramaccan Maroons, Suriname
- Susanne Masters (Leiden University) Harvest of orchids for salep production
- Organization of the course Ethnobotany (Wageningen University) every year in June
- Guest lectures in the course Plant Families of the Tropics (Leiden University) every year in January
- Guest lecture in the course Exploitation of Natural Products (Leiden University)
- Guest lecture in the course Material Religion and Memory (University of Amsterdam)