Hortus Botanicus Leiden

Hortus Botanicus Leiden

Hortus Botanicus Leiden

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The Hortus botanicus of Leiden is the oldest botanical garden of the Netherlands, and one of the oldest in the world. It is located in the southwestern part of the historical centre of the city, between the Academy building and the Leiden Observatory.


In 1587 the young University of Leiden requested the burgomasters of Leiden permission to establish a hortus academicus behind the Academy building, for the benefit of the medicine students. Permission was granted in 1590, and as prefect was appointed the famous botanist Carolus Clusius (1526–1609), who arrived in Leiden in 1593. Clusius' knowledge, reputation and international contacts allowed him to set up a very extensive plant collection. Clusius also urged the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to collect plants and (dried) plant specimens. The original garden set up by Clusius was small (about 35 by 40 meters), but contained more than 1000 different plants.

The collecting of tropical (from the Indies) and sub-tropical (from the Cape Colony) plants was continued under Clusius' successors. Especially Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738, prefect from 1709–1730), contributed greatly to the fame of the Hortus with his efforts to collect new plants and specimens, and with his publications, such as a catalog of the plants then to be found in the Hortus.

Another major contribution to the collections was made by Philipp Franz von Siebold, a German physician who was employed on Deshima (Japan) by the VOC from 1823 until his...
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