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Extraordinary orchids at Oude UB

Skilful watercolours by botanical painter Esmée Winkel, anatomical flower models and the odd stunning real orchid. In the Extraordinary Orchids exhibition at Oude UB, the Hortus botanicus shows us the wonderful world of the orchid.

It’s as though spring has already sprung in the hall at Oude UB: beautiful orchids grace the tables and windowsills and in the display cabinets are colourful drawings and paintings of this famous flower. These were produced by Leiden alumnus Esmée Winkel. She is a scientific illustrator for Naturalis Biodiversity Center and also regularly works for Hortus botanicus Leiden. She is inspired by the many rare plants in the collection and has won various prizes for her work, including a gold medal from the British Royal Horticultural Society.  

Watercolour by Esmée Winkel

Orchids at Hortus botanicus

Counting 4,000 species, the orchid collection is the largest of the research collections at Hortus botanicus. This includes orchids from all around the world, but mainly from Southeast Asia. The bee orchids from the Mediterranean, which can also be seen in the glasshouses at Hortus botanicus, form a special group. The exhibition explains more about the research into this species, which is primarily pollinated by three species of solitary bee. But one of these orchids, Ophrys apifera, can self-pollinate.  

Flower models from Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

From herbal manuscripts to flower models

The exhibition also looks at the study of plants over the centuries. Visitors can see a herbal manuscript from the 16th century and flower models from Naturalis Biodiversity Center that show the inside of flowers. Sound interesting? Visit the exhibition in Oude UB and admire the flowering bee orchid at Hortus botanicus on the other side of the canal. You might even bump into Esmée Winkel, who comes here almost every week to draw plants.  


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