Plants of Uganda:
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The East-African country of Uganda lays on the equator. Although without a coastline, it borders some of the great lakes of the Rift valley such as lake Edward and lake Albert to the west and lake Victoria to the south-east. Savannahs (tropical grasslands with mainly bushes and shrubs) cover almost the entire surface of the country. Forests exist only in the more humid regions around lake Victoria and in the western mountain ranges. About 40 million people, with their quite diverse cultures and languages live in Uganda; most belong to Bantu peoples. The official languages are the colonial English and Swahili, whose use East Africa’s lingua franca dates from several centuries in the past.
The African Herbarium:
Meise Botanic Garden houses one of the 14 largest herbaria in the world. The herbarium is divided into Belgian, African, and General herbarium. The African herbarium contains about 1 million specimens of plants collected south of the Sahara. 85% of all material ever collected in central Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi) is stored in our institution. This makes our African herbarium to remain to this day one of the most important herbaria in the world; and every year, we welcome numerous researchers in our institution who come to study these collections. Besides the central-African collections, the African herbarium also contains numerous specimens from other African countries with which Belgium never had any kind of colonial history. These specimens arrived to our collection throughout the years by means of scientific expeditions, exchange programs with other herbaria, and donations from private collectors.
The DOE! project:
With the financial support of the Flemish Government, Meise Botanic Garden started the project DOE! in 2015 (Digitale Ontsluiting Erfgoedcollecties - Digital Access to Cultural Heritage Collections). It was in this way that the whole African herbarium, just like the Belgian herbarium, could be fully digitised! The images of all these specimens are available on www.botanicalcollections.be. The label data of the African herbarium specimens were also transcribed in the context of DOE!, partially by our own personnel, partially by an external company. For a more limited part of the collection, only some key fields were filled in, so that some precious data is still not digitally available. In this project, we ask for your contribution on order to finish the job!
Uganda, Herbarium Africanum, Hortus Botanicus Meise, Botanica.