Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 299, Issue 9, pp 1793–1800 | Cite as

A treasure trove of plant biodiversity from the 20th century: the Werner Rauh Heritage Project at Heidelberg Botanical Garden and Herbarium

  • Marcus A. KochEmail author
  • Christof N. Schröder
  • Markus Kiefer
  • Peter Sack
Original Article


Prof. Werner Rauh (1913–2000) was the director at Heidelberg Botanical Garden and Herbarium for several decades and until his retirement in 1994, he undertook more than 36 expeditions, mainly to South and Central America as well as to southern Africa and in particular to Madagascar. From these journeys, he brought back innumerable plants to the Botanical Garden Heidelberg, especially succulents, bromeliads and orchids, which are a valuable part of today’s living collection and of the Herbarium. During his expeditions, he wrote more than 90 booklets with detailed information not only about the plants collected, but also about the vegetation and geology of the regions he visited. The heart of the presented Werner Rauh Heritage project is a relational database to store the heterogeneous information found in these field books, as well as to link the information to actual taxonomy and to the garden’s existing database, the living collection and numerous plant type material. A number of powerful tools are being developed to enable researchers to search the database for cross-linked information including Rauh’s original field numbers and the place of collection. The central part of the Werner Rauh Heritage Project database is a look-up table with the geo-referenced itineraries of Werner Rauh’s journeys and another table with all taxa entries listed in any field book. Tables with synonyms, basionyms and protologue data are included as well as numerous images and links to other taxonomic databases such as IPNI and TROPICOS.


Heidelberg Knowledge database Succulent plants Werner Rauh WRHP Werner Rauh Heritage Project 



We greatly acknowledge funding provided by the Klaus-Tschira foundation gGmbH (KTS in Heidelberg) to M.A.K. and extensive discussions with H. Reichardt (Heidelberg) in preparation of the project. We thank B. Sendler and U. Wagenfeld for preparing digital images of various collection objects and the whole team of the Botanical Garden Heidelberg for continuous support. We gratefully acknowledge support and loan of collection objects from em.Prof. W. Barthlott and Dr. D. Rafiqpoor (Bonn). In a very early stage of preparing the project, additional funding and help in digitizing all type material from Africa and the first series of field books was provided by the Mellon foundation within the ALUKA framework. Important support was provided by the “Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften”, who made available to us their BookEye scanning system, thus enabling us to prepare all digital images of remaining books and booklets in high quality. We are also grateful to Dr. U. Eggli (Zurich) for fruitful scientific discussions, and Berlin Botanic Gardens and Missouri Botanical Gardens for their collaboration in crosslinking information and databases.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcus A. Koch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christof N. Schröder
    • 1
  • Markus Kiefer
    • 1
  • Peter Sack
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biodiversity and Plant Systematics, Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) HeidelbergHeidelberg UniversityHeidelbergGermany

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