Research on the Living Collection
Botanic Garden Meise detains living plant collections of more than
25,000 accessions from 17,000 taxa or 14,000 species. This material is
cultivated for research, conservation and educational purposes. In
order to increase the efficiency of its management and to respond to
the ever-increasing demands for information, a computerized data bank
(LIVCOL) is being developed.
The software used is "Progress", a fourth generation relational
database management system. The structure allows users to avoid
redundancy and to assure the integrity of the information. Programmes
are developed with a multi-user-friendly approach. The database is
organized into some 53 files and 240 descriptors concerning
identification, synonymy, source, origin, cultivation, seed production
and distribution, herbarium specimens, photography, plant observations,
... It currently includes data on 41,000 accessions and 31,000 taxa.
Conservation of endangered species
Belgian focal point for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, our
botanic garden ensures that its scientific activities fall within the
objectives of this strategy. Research activities in this area are
mainly intended to optimise the quality of the collections stored in
the seed bank. They primarily concentrate on the study of seed
germination and seed storage behaviour, but also on the genetic
diversity of samples and species vulnerability to current and future
environmental changes. These studies focus on endangered species of the
Belgian flora but also other territories in which our botanic garden is
specialised (Europe and Central Africa). Such research enhances the
development strategy of the seed bank and develops the link between ex
situ and in situ conservation.
- Aplin D. 2008. How useful are botanic gardens for conservation? The RHS Plantsman 7/3: 190-193.
L.M., Piqueray J., Godefroid S. 2011. Le statut du brome épais (Bromus
grossus) en Région Wallonne. Adoxa 69/70 : 1-14.
S., Vanderborght T. 2010. Seed banking of endangered plants: are we
conserving the right species to address climate change? Biodiversity
and Conservation 19: 3049-3058.
S., Van de Vyver A., Vanderborght T. 2010. Germination capacity and
viability of threatened species collections in seed banks. Biodiversity
and Conservation 19: 1365-1383.
S., Vanderborght T. 2011. Plant reintroductions: the need for a global
database. Biodiversity and Conservation 20: 3683-3688.
S., Van de Vyver A., Stoffelen P., Robbrecht E., Vanderborght T. 2011.
Testing the viability of seeds from old herbarium specimens for
conservation purposes. Taxon 60: 565-569.
S., Rivière S., Waldren S., Boretos N., Eastwood R., Vanderborght T.
2011. To what extent are threatened European plant species conserved in
seed banks? Biological Conservation 144: 1494-1498.
S., Piazza C., Rossi G., Buord S., Stevens A.D., Aguraiuja R., Cowell
C., Weekley C.W., Vogg G., Iriondo J., Johnson I., Dixon B., Gordon D.,
Magnanon S., Valentin B., Bjureke K., Koopman R., Vicens M., Virevaire
M., Vanderborght T. 2011. How successful are plant species
reintroductions? Biological Conservation 144: 672-682.
J., Diagre D., Aplin D., Fabri R. 2005. The collections of the National
Botanic Garden of Belgium. In: Segers H., Desmet P., Baus E. (eds),
Tropical Biodiversity: Science, Data, Conservation, pp. 30-43,
Proceedings of the 3rd GBIF Science Symposium, 18-19 April 2005,
- Vanderborght T. 2003.
Une banque de graines de plantes sauvages: un outil à la disposition
d’une stratégie de conservation intégrée. Les Naturalistes belges 84 :
- Vanderborght T. 2004. Seed banking at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Scripta Botanica Belgica 29: 97-99.
Phenology of tropical and subtropical plants in greenhouses in the National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Plants grown in the tropical and subtropical greenhouses of
the Botanic Garden are studied with regard to flowering and
fruiting behavior. Five types of behavior are distinguished based on
duration and frequency of flowering and fruiting periods. A calendar
with the periods of maximum flowering is established. The studies
started in 1993 and 577 different taxa belonging to 119 families have
been studied until now.
- Billiet F. (1999) Contribution à l'étude de la phénologie de
plantes tropicales et subtropicales cultivées en serre : floraisons et
fructifications. Syst. Geogr. Pl. 69: 45-90.
- Billiet F. (2004) Phenology of tropical and subtropical plants in
greenhouses in the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. Scripta Bot.
Belg. 29: 39-54.
Identification of tropical and subtropical plants in greenhouses
and herbaceous plants outdoors in the Botanic Garden
In order to verify the correct identity of the living plants grown in
the Garden, plants are vouchered and often photographed when they are
flowering. The library as well as the herbarium BR offer very good
tools to achieve these verifications or to achieve new identifications.
The database LIVCOL enables the location of other introductions of the
same living taxon in the garden so that comparisons can be made. A
herbarium of the living taxa has been built up and comprises about
8,800 specimens. The colour-slide collection holds about 6,000 slides
of plants and details of flowers and fruits.
Identification of Woody Plants in the Outdoor Collections of the Botanic Garden
(D. De Meyere)Verification and identification of specimens in
the collection is of major concern, since researchers use much of this
living plant material worldwide. Voucher specimens are taken when
appropriate. About 3,600 accessions belonging to 2,100 different taxa
have been verified or identified. Of these, 2,280 accessions (5,560 in
total) are still in the collection. Generally all plants of a whole
genus are examined at once, preferably by consulting the most recent
monographs. This method minimizes the occurrence of incorrect
identifications and has the advantage of detecting possible errors in
the keys. Nomenclature and taxonomic levels are also corrected or
Variation of Winter-hardiness of Woody Plants in the Outdoor Collections of the Botanic Garden
(D. De Meyere)
Detailed observations of frost damage on living
plant material are carried out on a yearly basis but is strongly
dependant on the occurrence of winter cold and late spring or early
autumn frosts. New taxa are searched for, introduced, propagated and
planted out in the field. A wide diversity of taxa belonging to more
than 900 accessions has been observed during the last 20 years. All
data are stored in a database.
- De Meyere D. & van Trier (1987) Winterhardheid van houtige
gewassen in België: waarnemingen gedurende de periode 1984-85.
Rusticité des plantes ligneuses en Belgique: observations pendant la
période 1984-85. Winter Hardiness of Woody Plants in Belgium:
observations during the period 1984-85. 131 p. Meise, Nationale
Plantentuin van België.
Phenology of Woody Plants in the Outdoor Collections of the Botanic Garden
(D. De Meyere)
Phenological observations (flowering period, autumn colouring and leaf
shedding) are carried out on a large assortment of trees and shrubs.
Start- and end- dates of flowering have been recorded for several woody
plants in the garden. A wide diversity of taxa belonging to more than
3,000 different accessions has been observed during the last 20 years.
All data are stored in a database. These data should be useful to
landscape architects, gardeners, educational projects, etc.
- D. De Meyere (2000) Cultivation of Sorbus at the National Botanic Garden Meise. Belg. Dendr. Belg. 1999 :45-53.