The Utrecht University Botanic Gardens are both an academic institution and a museum, with a collection of more than 10,000 species of living plants. Spread across almost 9 hectares, the Gardens are the largest academic botanic garden in the Netherlands. The Utrecht collection has a major focus on North and South America, with plants (families) on display in the Rock Garden, Tropical Greenhouses and our North American Forest Garden, among others.

The curation of a living collection requires a different approach than a collection of paintings or archeological artifacts. For example, plants can self-seed to different locations in the garden, can remain dormant for a year, and can just suddenly die. But just like museums, the Gardens have multiple functions and the collections are not just meant for the public. In academic botanic gardens such as that of Utrecht University the collection is also available  for scientific research, education and conservation.


Het Alpinekasje bij de Rotstuin voor de meest kwestbare planten

The more than 10.000 species of plants, within more than 350 plant families. The collection is largely linked to different Garden sections, e.g.

  • rock plants in the Rock garden,
  • a plants from almost all Orders and Families of the Plant Kingdom in the Evolution garden,
  • a plant collection displaying the relationship between humans and plants in the Discovery garden and
  • a collection of (sub)tropical plants in the Tropical Greenhouses

In general our collections have a greater focus on North and South America of which our collections in the Tropical Greenhouses and the North American Woodland Garden are good examples.

National collections

Trillium spec.

With its fourteen national collections Utrecht is one of the biggest participants in the Dutch plant collection registered with the Dutch National Plant Collection Foundation (SNP) (in Dutch). These include:

  • various rock plants from the European, American and Asian mountains
  • various (sub)tropical species from the Guianas in South America (Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana)
  • About 40 species of Arisaema (Cobra lily) from the Arum family (Araceae)
  • A large collection of epiphytic cacti (Cactaceae)
  • A specialization in Neotropical orchids
  • Species from the genera Epimedium and Podophyllum (Berberidaceae)
  • A large part of the existing species of Trillium (Melanthiaceae)

In 2017, an open access manual (in Dutch) about curation in botanic gardens was published, and edited by curators from Utrecht University Botanic Gardens and Hortus Botanicus Delft.