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Crown jewels

Crown jewels

Glass room

The Glassroom is the education space of the Hortus, for school visits, drawing courses, lectures and microscopic research for students. If not in use for education, the Glassroom is also open to visitors. There is a permament exhibition that explains how botanic collections are gathered and structured, how plants are used in our daily lives, and you can experience plants with all your senses.

Snippendaal garden

In the 17th century, medicinal herbs were of vital importance as a basis for medicines. Doctors and pharmacists were trained and took their exams at the Hortus garden. In 1646, Johannes Snippendaal was appointed as prefect (director) of the Hortus Medicus Amsterdam. In that same year he managed to catalogue the entire collection. By the end of that year, he had counted 796 different plant species, the majority of which were medicinal plants, but special ornamental plants were also included. By drawing up this list, he essentially wrote the first catalogue of the Hortus Medicus Amsterdam. In our Snippendaal garden, several species of plants from our 17th century collection can be found.

Ginkgo biloba

The ginkgo or maidenhair tree is seen as a living fossil. It is the only remaining species of both the genus Ginkgo as the family Ginkgoaceae, with fossils recognisably related from the Permian, dating back 270 million years. Ginkgo has its origins in China. In the 9th Century the tree was imported into Japan where it was planted in temple gardens. The leaves are unique among seed plants, being fan-shaped with parallel veins.

Hugo de Vries gate

Hugo de Vries has played an important role in the history of genetics. At the end of the 19th century, the garden gained international fame as Hugo became its managing director. To keep the professor in Amsterdam, the university board built the current Palm Greenhouse and the Hugo de Vries laboratory. They gave him his own entrance gate, right across the street from his house at the Plantage Parklaan, saving him the long walk around the garden.


For a long time the Wollemi pine was only known from prehistoric fossils. Until, in 1994, a park ranger discovered  a group of 60 living specimens in the Blue Mountains, just 60 miles (100 kilometres) from Sydney.  With only such a small number of specimens alive, a species is very vulnerable to extinction. The offspring of this small group of trees has been spread around the world, mainly to botanic gardens, to protect them from extinction and to show the species to the public.


In winter, the monumental  Palm Greenhouse (built in 1912) accommodates a large collection of palms, cycads and pot plants. While most of the container plants are moved outside in summer, the larger ones, like the famous 350-year-old Eastern Cape giant cycad (Encephalartos altensteinii) and the Philodendron bipinnatifidum with its long aerial roots, remain in the Palm Greenhouse all year round.

Legend has it that Hugo de Vries personally planted the cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum burmannii) and the two ficus trees (F. macrophylla and F. lyrata) for teaching purposes.


This group of primitive plants evolved more than 300 million years ago – long before the Age of Dinosaurs. Cycads are related to conifers; instead of flowers, they grow cones. Plants are male or female. Due to their slow life cycle, cycads are very vulnerable to threats like habitat destruction and illegal trade. Therefore they are protected by international law.

carnivorous plants

You can find carnivorous plants in the Hortus in the butterfly greenhouse and tropical part of the Three Climate Greenhouse. In this swamp-like bed, you can find the largest gathering, mainly Sarracenia, of our collection. Carnivorous plants grow in very nutrient-poor environments. In order to obtain enough nutrients, these plants have developed an exceptional characteristic: they catch live insects and digest them.

South Africa collection

The Cape Fynbos in the subtropical zone represents one of the typical vegetation types found in South Africa. The Fynbos is known for its exceptional biodiversity. Since the 17th century, plants from South Africa have played an important role in the Hortus’s collection. Ships of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) brought the first species to Amsterdam, of which many ornamental flowers now are a common sight in our living rooms, like Pelargonium and Clivia.

canopy walk

Our Three climate greenhouse was built in 1993 as an impressive, modern, architectural construction. The greenhouse is divided in three climate zones, representing the subtropical, tropical, and desert. The canopy walk takes you directly from the subtropics into the tropics. It gives you a beautiful view on the plants, enables you to have a look at the trees upclose, and you can almost touch the glass roof construction.

desert greenhouse

In this zone, we show how desert plants have adjusted to the hard conditions of desert life. It also shows how these plants have developed similar adjustments, while living on completely different continents. Like Agaves (Americas) and Aloes (Africa); these look related by appearance, but they are not related at all. De striking, red coloured wall is a popular décor for photography. Nice to know: the colour consists of 50% Ayers rock red and 50% dover white.

Gympie gympie

Dendrocnide moroides, also called Gympie gympie, is common to rainforest areas of Australia. The species belongs to the nettle family (Urticaceae). Just like most family members, the plant has stinging hairs  on its leaves and stem. Only that the Gympie gympie is the most toxic and painful of them all. The stinging hairs deliver a toxin called moroidin, causing a burning sting and severe pain, which can last for days to even months. Gympie gympie is also called the most painful plant in the world.


Because of the high prices Arabs charged for coffee, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) decided to cultivate coffee themselves in their Batavian colonies. In 1706, the first shipment of propagated coffee seeds reached Amsterdam. The coffee plants grew well in the Greenhouses of the Amsterdam Hortus. The offspring of these plants was eventually shipped to South America, which is now home to the world’s largest coffee producers.

bees and butterflies

Bees and butterflies depend on flowers for their food. At the same time, these insects are of vital importance for the pollination of plants. While bees and butterflies drink the sugar-rich nectar, pollen grains get trapped on their (mostly furry) bodies and legs. The insects take these pollen with them on their trip to the next flower, where they stick to the pistils. Only when a plant is successfully pollinated, fertile seeds can be produced to ensure a new generation. A crucial symbiotic relationship.

Questions? Let us know

You can reach us on our general number: +31 20 625 9021