Although the name Georg Rumphius (1627-1702) probably doesn't ring a bell, he is deserving a place in the pantheon of plant science. His botanical masterpiece, The Ambonese Herbal, was the first extensive botanical monograph of the Indonesian flora, containing no fewer than 1.700 plant species.
About Spice Trade and Life on Seventeenth Century Ambon
Rumphius writes that spices such as clove and nutmeg were the Golden Fleece that caused every European superpower to sail east. The spice trade was also the reason for his own sojourn to the East and his settlement on the small island of Ambon. Although his Ambonese Herbal contains the first extensive descriptions of the clove and nutmeg trees, they play only a small part in the book as a whole. His Herbal provides us with a unique window into seventeenth century Ambon and the vital roles plants play in daily life. From well-known species such as the coconut palm and the banana plant to more obscure species such as the true sago palm and the areca nut palm. Dr. Norbert Peeters tells us more about the observations of Rumphius in this floral wonderland.
About Norbert Peeters
Norbert Peeters (MA) studied archaeology and philosophy at Leiden University. Together with professor Wouter Oudemans he wrote Plantaardig - Vegetatieve filosofie (2014). His debut, Botanische revolutie: de plantenleer van Charles Darwin appeared in 2016, followed by an edited volume he worked on together with Tessa van Dijk entitled Darwins engelen: vrouwelijke wetenschappers in de tijd van Charles Darwin (2018), and recently his new book Rumphius' Kruidboek - Verhalen uit de Ambonese flora (2020) was published. Norbert is also a producer for Studium Generale Leiden, and a PhD student at the Institute of Philosophy (Leiden University).