Olivier Lachenaud

Research scientist: Flora of Central Africa
Department: Research
Contact: olivier.lachenaud@plantentuinmeise.be

Olivier Lachenaud


For more than 15 years I have been studying the flora of African rainforests, first in West, and then in Central Africa. I took part to several collecting expeditions in Gabon, Cameroon and São Tomé, often in association with conservation projects (e.g. botanical inventories of protected areas, identification of priority sites for conservation, or environmental impact studies). Because the Central African flora is very rich, and not so well-studied, these expeditions have resulted in the discovery of several dozen new species.

When not in the field, my work consists in describing these novelties, writing floras and taxonomic monographs, identifiying herbarium collections, and making IUCN conservation status assessments of plant species – all these activities actually take much more time than field exploration.

Rubiaceae (the coffee family) are my favourite group of plants. They are very diverse in the undergrowth of tropical rainforests, especially the genus Psychotria - the largest in the family. My most important work so far has been a taxonomic revision of this genus in West and Central Africa, published in 2019, which includes the description of 85 new species.

Apart from Central Africa, I am also interested in the flora of the Guianas and Madagascar.


  • PhD, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, 2013
  • MSc, University of Montpellier II, France, 2007

Employment history

  • Research scientist, Meise Botanic Garden, 2013 - ongoing
  • Research fellow, F.R.S.-F.N.R.S., 2008 - 2013
  • Research scientist, Meise Botanic Garden, 2007 - 2008

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Damien Ertz