Botanic Garden Meise - OUR SCIENTISTS

Piet Stoffelen
Curator vascular herbarium

Ann Bogaerts
Curator cryptogam herbarium

Sofie De Smedt
Assistant Curator and project coordinator digitization

CONTACT : Piet Stoffelen +32 2 260.09.57 - Ann Bogaerts +32 2 260.09.35 - Sophie De Smedt +32 2 260.09.20 (ext. 337)


Damien ErtzThe Herbarium of the Botanic Garden Meise houses almost 4 million specimens of vascular plants, fungi, lichens, mosses, algae and myxomycetes. Together with their associated material such as field books, slides, and drawings it belongs to one of the largest herbaria of Europe.

What is a herbarium? It is a collection of preserved plants stored, catalogued, and arranged systematically for study by professionals and amateurs from a wide range of interests. Herbarium specimens are references for the scientific names of plants, plant identification and document plant locations, habitat, abundance, etc. A herbarium is a museum of priceless artifacts and a warehouse of information on plants. The herbarium is functioning as a "library" of plant specimens; the collections and the associated information are loaned and exchanged with other herbaria worldwide. Preserved plant specimens can be used to provide samples for morphological, anatomical, macromolecular and chemical analyses or are, a repository of herbarium vouchers, essential for the validation of scientific observations. A herbarium is therefore of immense practical use and fundamental to science.

The curators together with their herbarium technicians are responsible for its long-term care, maintenance and development. The herbarium holds also important historical collections, some of the collections were being collected about two hundred years ago and have priceless significance for botanical science as well as being an important historical document on the past and are therefore a resource of information for ecologists, geographers and historians.

That‘s why digitization of the material becomes very important. Once placed online, digitized material is much more accessible to researchers than non-digitized documents. Digitized documents can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection, which can reduce or eliminate researchers' travel time and expenses. Sofie manages the different digitization projects of the Garden since 2004 and more than 100,000 specimens are already digitized with help from sponsors such as the A.W. Mellon Foundation.