Flora Batava 1800-1934: exhibition of key works of Dutch botany

Published on
May 25, 2023

In June this year, a new edition of the key work of Dutch botany will be published including stories of Wageningen scientists. Special Collections celebrates this with a new exhibition on the Flora Batava: Stories Plants Tell.

Flora Batava 1800-1934

The Flora Batava, the key work of Dutch botany, ran from 1800 to 1934 and became one of the longest-running series in the Netherlands. The Flora Batava is a beautifully illustrated work with more than 2600 wild plant species from the 19th century. No fewer than 461 instalments were published, which together form 28 parts.

Publisher Jan Christiaan Sepp wanted to make an overview of Dutch flora, including trees, flowers and mushrooms. Commissioner for the Affairs of Agriculture, Jan Kops, was the editor of this huge project, which lasted eventually until 1934. By then, over 2600 plants were drawn and described. Several well-known artists, for example, Anton Weiss, contributed to the publication.

WUR Library is proud to have 1000 original drawings of the Flora Batava, which were acquired in 1948, in its collection.

The Flora Batava 2023 and WUR's contribution

In addition to all 28 original volumes, the new publication in one volume also contains 100 new stories from plant connoisseurs and admirers. Seven WUR employees and one former employee have contributed to the new book. The wide variety of themes and insights illustrates the continuing importance of a publication such as the Flora Batava. A publication that tells something about biodiversity, and biogeography, but also about species, art history and the use of plants then and now.

The book that will be published in June 2023 contains 12 stories of the following Wageningen contributors:

  • Tinde van Andel, Professor of Biosystematics. She also holds a chair in the History of Botany and Gardens at Leiden University
  • Anneke Groen, curator at Special Collections of WUR Library
  • Liesbeth Missel, former curator of Special Collections of WUR Library
  • Liesje Mommer, Professor of Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation and leading the Wageningen Biodiversity Initiative
  • Jose van Paassen, researcher in Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation
  • Joop Schaminee, Professor of Vegetation Ecology
  • Anastasia Stefanaki, researcher at the Department of Plant Sciences, Group Biosystematics
  • Nils van Rooijen, researcher Vegetation, Forest and Landscape Ecology.

Exhibition Stories Plants Tell: Flora Batava 1800-1934The new exhibition at the Library's Special Collections opens on 17 May. In June, the book published by publisher Lannoo will also be available at the Library. Special Collections owns approximately 1,000 drawings.

The first part of the exhibition shows the history of botany in Western Europe. It starts with medicinal plants and their medical use, published in so-called herbals. The oldest book shown is the book “In commodorum ruralium” by Crescentius from around 1490. During the Enlightenment, flora from other countries was discovered, as can be seen in books from Maria Sybilla Merian and Berthe Hoola van Noten.

The second part concentrates on the flora’s of the Netherlands. Also a few botanical models from the Pantarijn in Wageningen are on display.

Part three shows a selection of original drawings from the Flora Batava and plants that were described in the stories of the Wageningen researchers.

Location & opening hours

The exhibition opens on 17 May and runs until 30 September 2023. Special Collections is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm and is closed on national holidays. If you would like to visit the collection in the afternoon or with a group, please send an e-mail to

Address: Special Collections Reading Room, WUR Library, Wageningen University & Research Forum, Building 102, Droevendaalsesteeg 2, 6706KN Wageningen. Please use the main entrance to the Library on the 2nd floor of the building.

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