The zierikzee herbarium: contents and origins of an enigmatic 18th century herbarium.
The Municipal Museum of Zierikzee (The Netherlands) houses a loose-leafed herbarium containing 354 plant specimens, of which the provenance, age and maker were until recently unknown. By studying the plant specimens, paper, decorations and labels, an image was conveyed of an early 18th century herbarium that matched the description of a herbarium from the legacy of Jacob Ligtvoet (1684-1752), gardener in the Hortus botanicus of Leiden (The Netherlands) from 1703 till his death in 1752. This herbarium is one of the oldest garden herbaria of its kind and contains 306 unique species, of which 201 are currently native to the Netherlands. Exotic species come from the Mediterranean (81 spp.), South Africa (8), the Americas (10) and tropical Asia (7) and for the larger part from Europe and temperate Asia. Based on our comparison of names on the oldest labels, this collection of dried plants was probably started after publication of the first garden catalogue by the prefect of the Leiden hortus and professor of botany Herman Boerhaave (1710), but before the second edition in 1720. This historic herbarium reflects the state-of-the-art of botanical science and the international network of Dutch botanical gardens in the early 18th century.