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.

Group leader

Prof. Dr. Hans ter Steege

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.  

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.


tropisch bos