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Tinde van Andel

Prof. Dr. T.R. (Tinde) van Andel, Special Professor Ethnobotany at Biosystematics group, Wageningen University Special Professor History of Botany and Gardens, Clusius chair, faculty of Science, Leiden University. Senior Researcher at Naturalis Biodiversity Center.


Email: tinde.vanandel@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71 7519267
Room number: Vondellaan 55, 3rd floor
“Listening to the story behind a useful plant helps me to discover people’s unwritten history.”

As an ethnobotanist, I study traditional plant use. Together with several PhD students, postdocs and MSc students, I am involved in a number of research projects. 

In cooperation with the Biosystematics group at Wageningen University and several international partners, I do research on traditional rice cultivars grown by Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana. Documenting traditional knowledge on rice cultivars and landraces and farmer's motivation for maintaining a large diversity of landraces on their fields helps us to understand how people have been survived on self-sufficient agriculture in the past centuries. Genetic research on traditional rice cultivars can show the migration routes of people's and plants, and exchange of cultivars among different ethnic groups. 

Within the Clusius chair at Leiden University, I am involved in the study of historic herbaria and botanical drawings, made by early scientists and explorers in the 16th, 17th and 18th century. These collections often include medicinal and otherwise useful plants from tropical countries. Examples are botanical drawings of medicinal plants, documented by VOC ship doctors in Ceylon, the book herbaria of the German explorer Leonhard Rauwolf, The Historia Naturalis Brasiliensis (1648) for Dutch Brazil, and several other historic herbaria made by anonymous botanists. 

I teach several classes in the course Plant Families of the Tropics (Leiden University) and teach my own course Ethnobotany (BIS 90306) at Wageningen University, in which students get acquintanced with theory, field methods and research experience in traditional plant use. 


  • MSc Biology (Tropical Ecology), IBED University of Amsterdam 1986-1992
  • PhD Ethnobotany, National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Utrecht University 1995-2000
  • Postdoc Ethnobotany, National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Utrecht University 2005-2009
  • Postdoc Ethnobotany, National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden University / Naturalis 2010-2015
  • Professorship Ethnobotany at Wageningen University. 1 May 2015.
  • Professorship History of Botany and Gardens, Leiden University. 1 September 2015.


Research interest

Linking West African and Afro-Caribbean Ethnobotany.

Changes in plant use over time and space

Traditional crop cultivars

Historic plant collections


suriname, guianas, ntfps, women's health, ritual plants, traditional landraces, herbal medicine, africa, ethnobotany

Current research topics

Ritual plants and their importance for conservation, cultural identity and (oral) history.

Plants used for women’s health and child care and implications for public health.

Diversity of traditional crop landraces, in particular rice and taro in Suriname

Sustainable harvesting of non-timber forest products.

Local plant names and their relation to the discovery of plant use by humans.

Plant use data from historical herbaria and books.


Wageningen University

Leiden University

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Natural History Museum, Norway

SNRI-ADRON, Rice research institute, Nickerie, Suriname


Neotropical and African herbarium collections.

Economic Botany collections.

Historic collections

Library special collections

Supervision PhDs


Charlotte van 't Klooster

Mireia Alcantara Rodriguez

Bob Jia

Susanne Masters



  • Plant Families of the Tropics (organization and teaching).
  • Ethnobotany (BSc /MSc course, Wageningen University).

Free download of all student theses.

Renske de Boo, Melissa Ramdayal (UL)

Thomas Heger, Emma de Haas, Madeline Donald, Margret Veltman (WUR)


Available student projects

Public outreach

See for Media Coverage:  https://tindevanandel840615819.wordpress.com/media-coverage/



Did Africans in the New World search for similar medicinal plants as they remembered from Africa?

Do we find many related botanical taxa or similar pharmacological properties in the medicinal floras of the Guianas, Ghana, Benin and Gabon?

Wageningen University student Minke Reijers interviews Maroon farmer on the African crops she cultivates in her farm.

Maroon agriculture is characterized by a great diversity of crops and obscure landraces.

What plant species, names and uses survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade?

Do Maroons need specific African crop cultivars to prepare their traditional dishes?

Ancestor shrine in Jawjaw, Upper Suriname River.

How did African slaves discover new plants in the Americas worship their African Gods?
And what properties makes a plant magic?


See also https://tindevanandel840615819.wordpress.com/publications/

Google Scholar Citations: https://scholar.google.nl/citations?user=wtp_JswAAAAJ&hl=nl&authuser=1

Researchgate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tinde_Andel


How did Maroons survive in the Suriname rainforest? Here a Maroon women explains how her ancestors hid rice in their hair during their escape from the plantations, which was crucial to the survival of Maroons.

See the video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4H1IbY6PGIk&t=2s

Pictures and video by Alice Bertin