Sofie De Smedt

Scientific manager of the herbarium - Digitisation
Department: Collections
Phone: +32 2 260 09 57


Sofie De Smedt

The Herbarium of Meise Botanic Garden 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.

My job as scientific manager of the herbarium is to preserve, maintain, develop and valorise the collections. I am amongst others responsible for:

  • Specimen acquisition, loans, exchanges, inventory and record keeping, and collection conservation (pest control, specimen repair, etc.).
  • Supporting specimen databases and digitization projects.
  • Supporting the use of the collection in specimen-based research.
  • Arranging appointments for visitors; providing orientation to new visitors, assisting visitors, and developing and implementing visitor and usage policies.
  • Training and leading a team of herbarium technicians.
  • Promoting the visibility of the herbarium collection through public engagement activities such as tours, presentations and citizen science


Since 2004, Meise Botanic garden has been systematically digitisating its herbarium collection. It all started with the digitisation of the African type specimens during the African Plants Initiative, followed by the digitisation of all type specimens during the Global Plants Initiative, both funded by the Mellon Foundation.

In 2015, Meise Botanic Garden received a grant from the Flemish Government to digitise the entire African and Belgian collection within 3 years. All 1,2 million sheets were digitised and made available online on the virtual herbarium

In 2018 the second mass digitisation project started where 1,4 million sheets from the general collection and the macro algae collection were digitised. 900,000 of them are also available on The macro algae and Van Heurck collection will be made available in 2023.

On, the crowdsourcing platform of Meise Botanic Garden, citizens can help us transcribe label information from herbarium specimens.

Information on how Meise Botanic Garden digitised their collections can be found on


  • MSc, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, 2003    

Employment history

  • Responsible for the API, LAPI and GPI projects at BR 2004-2013
  • Responsible for herbarium digitisation 2004 - now
  • Scientific Manager of the Herbarium, 2014 - now



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