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Researchers and plant hunter-gatherers

From 8-16 June is this year’s Botanical Gardens Week.

Freiburg, Jun 04, 2019

Researchers and plant hunter-gatherers

Source: Botanical Garden Freiburg

How did tulips and hydrangeas get to our gardens - and anthuriums and African violets onto our windowsills? How did tea and nutmeg become everyday pleasures? From 8-16 June, Botanical Gardens Week will showcase the hunt for green gold. With themed walks and the exhibition Forscher, Sammler, Pflanzenjäger – unterwegs mit Humboldt & Co. (Researchers, collectors, plant hunters - on the road with Humboldt and friends), the University of Freiburg Botanical Gardens shed light on the fates of the men and women who searched to the ends of the Earth to find new plants. In doing so, many of the risked their lives and health: Their stories are of hair-raising experiences, morally dubious methods, and tragic endings.

Alexander von Humboldt is the exhibition’s posthumous patron – he was born 6 May 250 years ago. Although the scientific scope of his studies was much broader, Humboldt and his companion Aimé Bonpland collected and investigated a large number of plants. On 15 large thematic panels, the exhibition illuminates not only the protagonists of the various epochs, it also gives their motives for hunting plants. Power, money and scientific curiosity were the main driving forces - and some of them still are today. Monarchs adorned themselves with exotic plants, colonial powers fought for monopolies on profitable crops, orchid hunters sought the most spectacular species, and researchers sought knowledge. In the male-dominated collector's scene, extraordinary women made their mark, and a separate panel is dedicated to them. A brochure is available for those who would like more detail; it describes the exhibition over more than 80 pages and provides three additional essays on the subject. The exhibition runs from 8 June to 31 August.

On Sunday, 9 June from 1pm to 5pm, there will be family events, coffee and cake, and plant sales at the Botanical Gardens of the University of Freiburg. The kids can plant cress and mint, and discover what concealed objects are by feeling and smelling them. Music is supplied by DJ Gunther a.k.a. Prof. Dr. Gunther Neuhaus, Vice-Rector of the University of Freiburg. Tours of the exhibition are in German; they are on 9 June at 3pm and 14 June at 5pm. The tours start at the entrance to the public greenhouses.

All events are free of charge. There is no need to register. The exhibition and Botanical Gardens week are an initiative of the Botanischer Gärten e.V.


Further information and program


Professor Dr. Thomas Speck
Botanical Gardens / Plant Biomechanics Group
University of Freiburg
Phone: 0761/203-2875