In two lectures Norbert Peeters (Leiden University) will introduce the green side of Britain’s most famous naturalist and discuss Darwin’s contribution to current day botany.
Charles Darwin is of course a household name in science. We often associate his name with his around the world voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, his discovery of the Darwin finches on the Galapagos Islands, and last but not least the publication of his masterpiece On the Origin of Species (1859), in which he discloses his theory of evolution. But few people associate Darwin with plant sciences even though no less than a third of his written work is dedicated to plants. With various books and dozens of articles on plants, he revolutionized the field of botany.
The first evening Peeters will focus on two major themes from Darwin’s botanical works, i.e. the pollination of flowering plant and the evolution of carnivory amongst plants. With Darwin as a guide we explore the meaning of flowers. Darwin was one of the first to popularize the idea that insects (and other animals) play an important role in cross-pollination amongst flowering plants. We will also look more closely at carnivorous plants. In his book Insectivorous Plants Darwin explains both how and why plants catch and digest prey.
Norbert Peeters studied archaeology and philosophy at Leiden University. Together with former professor Th.C.W. Oudemans he wrote Plantaardig – Vegetatieve filosofie (2014). In 2016 he published his own debut book: Botanische revolutie: de plantenleer van Charles Darwin. His research focuses on a number of topics at the interface between philosophy, history of botany and plant sciences. Currently he is editing an volume on Victorian female naturalists that corresponded with Darwin.