Science - September 24, 2009

Herbarium moves to Leiden

The plants of Herbarium Vadense have a new home. The fate of Wageningen's nematode and insect collections is still undecided. WUR no longer undertakes the scientific management of the arboreta.

Herbarium Vadense, the big plant specimen collection of Wageningen University, will move to Leiden. It will be managed by the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity, which has received thirty million euros from the government for this purpose.
The herbarium has a collection of 800 thousand dried plants, mosses and fungi, mostly from Africa. In addition, there is a spirit collection of 22 thousand flower and fruit specimens and a wood sample collection with 18 thousand specimens. These were gathered in the last fifty years by Wageningen botanists, while plant specimens from Asia and Latin America were gathered and managed by the universities of Leiden and Amsterdam. Bringing these various collections under one roof results in a collection of 37 million specimens of plants, rocks, stuffed animals and fossils.
The future of a few of the other collections, however, is still undecided. The insect collection of the chair group Entomology and the Wageningen nematode collection (the biggest in the world) are not included in the agreement with the biodiversity centre. The professors in charge, Marcel Dicke and Jaap Bakker, are negotiating with other parties to find them a home.
In the meantime, the university has stopped managing the scientific aspects of the arboreta and the living collection of trees and shrubs. Curator Wilbert Hetterscheid, responsible for the scientific management, and several other employees have had to give up their old jobs. The collections are no longer needed in education and research, explains spokesman Simon Vink.