Central Custody
Weender Landstraße 2
37073 Göttingen

Opening hours/access:

Contact person/contact:
Central Custody
Christine Nawa
Tel.: +49 (0551) 39-26696

In addition to the Botanical Garden and herbarium, the Botanical Institute had extensive collections of wet specimens, woods, seeds and fruits around 1900. The collection of wet specimens has survived to this day. Similar to human anatomical or zoological specimens, plants, plant parts and fruits were permanently preserved in their full plastic form and - for a limited period of time - also in their colour by immersing them in alcoholic or formalin-based solutions. In transparent glass containers ranging from a few centimetres to almost a metre in height, they made it possible to view living plants realistically at all times of the year.

The "Spiritus Collection" was thus part of a comprehensive didactic system for the training of budding botanists. This included the institute's other collections - including the garden and herbarium - as well as wall charts, textbooks and the often elaborate, but short-lived, displays on the blackboards of the lecture theatres and seminar rooms.
The heyday of the use of the botanical wet specimens was around 1900, when the botanical collections grew considerably, particularly under the 35-year directorship of Albert Peter (1888-1923). Considerable resources were invested in the collections: This included setting up collection rooms as well as transferring, reorganising and relabelling the objects. Glasses and spirit also had to be purchased for the specimens.

The collection is divided into two sections: The first, morphological, emphasises the structure and form of plants. In lectures, topics such as the adaptation of plants to different habitats or modifications of the plant body to carnivory (carnivorous plants) can be illustrated. The second section is organised according to systematic criteria. Of particular interest here is the identification and naming (nomenclature) of plants and their categorisation (taxonomy) into families, species and genera based on common characteristics. This makes it possible in plant systematics lectures to look at different representatives of a family side by side, to explain typical family characteristics or to compare similar but unrelated species with each other. One example is the illustrated varieties of snapdragon.

Today, the collection consists of around 2,940 specimens, all of which are recorded in a database.

Christine Nawa

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