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Digital Atlas of Economic Plants

R.T.J. Cappers, R. Neef, R.M. Bekker

Series: Groningen Archaeological Studies 9

ISBN-13: 9789077922590

Publication year: 2009

Publication type: Book

Pages: Vol 1: V, 1-527; Vol 2A & 2B: V, 1-1508

Cover: Hardcover

Format: 200 x 250 x 360 mm; 10,5 kg; 3 vols; full colour ill.

Price excl. VAT: 306.60

Price incl. VAT: 334.19

This atlas, which - like the other atlasses in the series - is published as a book plus a website, presents the plant parts that have an economic value and are offered for sale at markets and in shops. They include plants that are used as food, spices, stimulants, medicines, poisons, offerings, dyes, tannins, building materials and ground coverings.

The atlas contains 3,767 plant species on more than 10,000 high quality photographs. The Introduction and the Glossary of the book, as well as the website, are in English, German, and Dutch. The book contains indices in eleven languages, and two extra indices  on scientific plant name and pharmaceutical plant name. The website will contain an advanced search function. All these characteristics will make the book of more than 2,000 pages in three parts with accompanying website an indispensable tool for all kinds of specialists, and an important reference work for others.

In recent years, many markets and herb shops in the old world have been visited to expand the comparative collection with what is currently on offer in trade. It turns out that the range has been changing in the last 10 years. On the one hand, globalization has resulted in a wider variety of mainly food plants through the migration of people and increased international transport of goods. However, the same globalization has also resulted in a certain degree of impoverishment of the range - medicinal plants in particular are vanishing from the shelves.

The temperate parts of Asia are best represented with 1568 taxa (48%), followed by Europe (1016 taxa, 31%), Africa (959 taxa, 29%), tropical Asia (789 taxa, 24%), North America ( 644 taxa, 20%), South America (529 taxa, 16%), Australasia (318 taxa, 10%) and the Pacific (66 taxa, 2%). It goes without saying that completeness was not the aim - there are simply too many plants with economic value. The selection is based on World Economic Plants. A Standard Reference by J.H. Wiersema & B. León (1999).

In order to best illustrate the variety in seed and fruit types within families, one or more representatives of many ornamental plants have also been included. How the different plants are used is indicated by pictograms. In addition to seeds and fruits, this atlas also illustrates other plant parts, such as roots, tubers, rhizomes, bulbs, fragments of stem, leaves, flowers and buds. Typical examples of objects of daily use made from plant parts are also presented.


Purchase of the book grants access to the protected parts of the website.

The protected part of the website contains all images in the book on a large scale.

On the protected part you may also search for plant images using the following keys:
- the 12 indexes (scientific plant name, pharmaceutical plant name, English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Arab, Turkish, Chinese, Hindi, Sanskrit, and Malayalam),
- taxonomy (for example all images of the species of the genera Veronica and Plantago),
- economical value ( for instance all images of poisons, offerings, dyes, or tannins),
- geograhical location (continent or country where the sample has been collected),
- measurements on the basis of the length or width of the seeds or fruits,
- metadata (collector, location, date, and remarks).

It is important to note that the search keys may be combined. Some examples: all medical roots from China, all grains from Africa, all seeds and fruits of ornamental plants from the Americas.


The Digital Atlas of Economic Plants will be an indispensable tool for people working in a wide range of fields, including taxonomy, ecology, pharmacology, seed testing, ethnobotany, archaeobotany, agriculture and horticulture, gardening, biotechnology, food quality, trade, maintenance of CITES regulations, plant and crop protection, invasive and exotic species, plant conservation and restoration and biodiversity.

The atlas is an important work of reference for all those who need high quality full-colour photographs of plants and plant parts, and information about the economic use and naming of plants.

Extra information

Browse this book with Google Books.
For sample pages from this atlas and other plant atlases, see the Plant Atlas Project website at


Tinde van Andel, Gorteria 34 (2009-2010), 119-120