Elmar Robbrecht

Research scientist: taxonomy and phylogeny of Rubiaceae
Department: Research
Contact: elmar.robbrecht@plantentuinmeise.be

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For a few years I studied myxomycetes, but from 1974 onwards my research focused on the coffee and gardenia family (Rubiaceae). Starting with systematics of tropical African representatives (Hymenocoleus Robbr., Sericanthe Robbr. Tricalysia A.Rich. …) I gradually developed an interest in the classification and phylogeny of the family worldwide. I proposed systems for the Rubiaceae, in 1988 with four subfamilies, in 2006 with two subfamilies.

I teached systematic botany and theoretical systematic biology at Antwerp University.


  • Aggregation (teaching certificate plant systematics and phytogeography), Ghent University, 1991
  • PhD biology, Ghent University, 1980 
  • MSc biology, Ghent University, 1972 


  • Robbrechtia De Block
  • Oxyanthus robbrechtianus Sonké
  • Craterispermum robbrechtianum Taedoumg & Sonké
  • Globulostylis robbrechtiana Sonké et al.
  • Tricalysia elmar M.Cheek
  •  Helichrysum robbrechtianum Lisowski 
  •  Ipomoea robbrechtii Lejoly & Lisowski 
  •  Pseudohemipilia robbrechtiana (Geerinck & Schaijes) Szlach.
  • Lepisorus robbrechtianus Mangambu & van Diggelen
  • Pinnularia robbrechtii Van de Vijver 


  • Silver Engler Medal of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy 
  • Emile Laurent Award of the ‘Académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique’

Employment history

  • Assistant, Ghent University, 1973–1974
  • Research scientist, Meise Botanic Garden, 1974 – 1998
  • Head of Department, Meise Botanic Garden, 1998 – 2011
  • Charged with graduate courses at the Department of Biology, Universiteit Antwerpen (hoofddocent, hoogleraar), 1985–2011.
  • Retirement 1 March 2011


At present Rubiaceae instalments for “Flore d’Afrique centrale

Professional activities

  • Member of the Royal Botanical Society of Belgium (1984-1998: scientific secretary of the section Systematics-Phytogeography of the Royal Botanical Society of Belgium; 2005-2008: president; 2009-2011 vice-president)
  • Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research: Member (1990-2000; 1999 president) of the Commission Systematics, Morphology and Ecology of the F.W.O. and the Commission for Plant Biology of the F.N.R.S. (1990-2007).
  • Organization or co-organization of several scientific conferences (e.g. 1995 Second International Rubiaceae Conference, 1997 13th Symposium Morphology, Anatomy and Systematics, 2000 XVIth AETFAT Conference).
  • Promotor or co-promotor of doctoral projects at the universities of Antwerp, Leuven and Yaoundé.
  • Member of the Belgian scientific commission for the Washington Convention (CITES) (1988-2000).
  • Member (1994– ) of the Belgian Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences (section Natural and Medical Sciences); 2000 vice-president, 2001 president of the section.
  • Editorial work (editor of "Systematics and Geography of Plants", 1999-2009; editor in chief of "Plant Ecology and Evolution" (2010-2020). 


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