Special Issue No. 1, February 1994

Editors : J. Kartasubrata and N. Wulijarni-Soetjipto


No publications in the field of plant resources of South-East Asia give such thorough and comprehensive information as K. Heyne's The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies' (1927) and I.H. Burkill's 'A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula' (1935). W.H. Brown's 'Useful plants of the Philippines' (1941-1943), L.J. Reyes 'Philippine woods' (1938), and Ch. Crevost, Ch. Lemarie and A. Petelot's 'Catalogue des produits de L'lndochine (1917-1941)' provide useful information as well.

Since the publication of these books research in tropical agronomy, horticulture, forestry and economic botany has expanded rapidly.

In 1985, after several requests from South-East Asia, the Wageningen Agricultural University took the initiative of starting a research project on the plant resources of South-East Asia which became known as the PROSEA Pro-gramme. Its objectives are to collect, evaluate and summarize existing knowledge on about 5000 useful plants in the region, to publish this information in a multi-volume handbook, and to set up a plant data bank.

In this Special Issue of PROSEA News-letter we wish to present a paper by Prof. Dr. H.C.D. de Wit on the life and work of
Karel Heyne, the author of The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies'. This book singularly motivated scientists, managers and administrators, in particular in the Netherlands, Indonesia and other South-East Asian countries, to initiate the PROSEA Programme.

Karel Heyne and his classic on economic plants
H.C.D. de Wit
Doorwerthsestraat 10, 6866 NH Heelsum, Netherlands

Brief biography

Karel Heyne (30 August 1877, Amsterdam - 11 November 1947, Bennekom) was the youngest son in a large non-religious family. He grew up in modest circum-stances with some schooling but no university training. He wrote the first manual on the history of the useful plants of Indonesia. In his early twenties he went to Java. After 1900 he was a trade employee in the then official Royal Shipping Company (Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij). In 1903 he married Wilhelmina Louise Visser (born at Batavia, 5 February 1871 and deceased in 1913). Two sons were born (1905, 1906) from this marriage. In 1906 the family moved to Buitenzorg (Bogor). On 3 January 1920 he married Ida van Oorschot (2.2. July 1875, Ambarawa - 1 August 1957, Bennekom). Heyne lived at Bogor till he retired from the government service (1926) and repatriated on 7 April 1927. He interrupted twenty years of service only once to go on leave to the Netherlands.

Having completed the revision of his great book, Heyne returned to the Netherlands and settled at Bennekom (near Arnhem), where he bought a large house (Villa Albertina). He added two greenhouses, one heated and one kept temperate. There he cultivated Indonesian plants till his death twenty years later. Heating the greenhouse made him rise at four, every night, to refill the coal-burning stove. He died in 1947.

Karel Hayne (30 August 1877 - 11 November 1947)

History of the Herbarium Bogoriense and Bogor Botanical Gardens

Since 1844 useful plants and fruits, wood samples, and various vegetable products have been conserved, either dried or in spirits. The collection was started by J.E. Teysmann (1808-1882), Head of the Botanical Gardens, and J.K. Hasskarl (1811-1894), Assistant Garden Curator. The specimens were housed in a wooden shed, 6 by 18 metres, opposite the Director's residence.

On 27 January 1859, construction of a Cabinet of Minerals and Museum for Mining was started on the place where now the Herbarium Bogoriense is situated. The mineral collections were moved to Batavia (Jakarta) in 1871. The emptied building was put at the disposal of the Botanical Gardens, and the collections housed in the Gardens were moved into the former Mining Museum. Henceforth this building became known as the Herbarium and Museum of the Buitenzorg (now Bogor) Botanical Gardens. The growing botanical Library of the Gardens accompanied the Museum specimens and was arranged in two rooms. The Herbarium was divided into the General Herbarium (tropical Asia, mainly Indonesia) and the Garden Herbarium which was composed of plants growing in the Gardens and specimens of cultivated plants from various other sources. This Garden Herbarium was still there when the author arrived in Bogor in 1941. He was charged to name and control this large and exceptionally beautiful collection, and to incorporate it into the General Herbarium.

The Museum collection consisted of fruits, seeds, and flowers, preserved dried or in spirits, in boxes and bottles. The collection consisted also of samples of timber, fibre, rattan, 'getah', rubber, tanning material, cinchona, fats, flour, indigo, resins, 'damar', cacao, sugar, tea, coffee, rice, tobacco, nutmeg, mace, bamboos and the like.

Clearly, efforts to establish collections of useful plant products had been made for over half a century. In the early twentieth century the interest in profitable vegetable products of Indonesia had turned towards crops yielding quick returns and which required little investment. Their cultivation might provide opportunities to autochthonous enterprises and on the other hand to some extent compensate the declining profits of the traditional staple crops (tobacco, tea, rubber, sugar, coffee, cocoa, cinchona). One ought now to reconsider fibre producers, oils or fats, resins, gums, caoutchouc or gutta-percha, proteins, pigments, tannins, reputed medicinal or healing herbs, animal feeds, bamboos and what not. Apart from this, the timber trade increased and the commercial value of wood was linked to a reliable identification of the woods harvested in the wild. Taxonomic studies, in particular on all Java trees, were started by Valeton and Koorders in 1892 at the Centre for Natural Sciences in (Bogor).

Information about neglected plants, their identity, appearance and their products, was fragmentary and uncertain. Moreover, it laid hidden in numerous reports, period-icals and books.

On occasion of his visit to the Netherlands in 1902, M. Treub (1851-1910), Director of the Bogor Botanical Gardens (1880-1909), convinced the Minister of Agriculture that the Government support for research on insufficiently known Indonesian economic vegetable products was necessary. The Minister guaranteed that, in case Treub would find sponsors to build a Centre of Information (fl. 50.000 was required), funds would be made available for the conservation and upkeep of collections to be assembled and payment of salaries. Treub found sponsors, and the Dutch parliament approved Treub's Museum proposals (8 July 1903). The project was implemented and the building of the Museum completed towards the end of 1905. Only the matted glass windows were yet to be placed in order to have a convenient working unit.

In January 1906 the Chief-Conservator of the Museum (appointed in 1904 by Treub) resigned before he had actually started his work - not because of the still absent windows, but because of greener grass elsewhere - and it is most satisfactory to note that his name is lost to history. Before the month was out, Treub appointed Karel Heyne to direct the Museum for Economic Botany (concurrently also the Information Office for Economic Botany of the Department of Agriculture, Industry and Trade). This appoint-ment proved to be one of Treub's master strokes.

Treub had transformed the Botanical Gardens ('s Lands Plantentuin, now Kebun Raya Indonesia) into a scientific organisation of a half dozen research institutes on natura resources. The new Museum fitted perfect ly into this flourishinc general programme He was very much Museum for Economi aware of the impor-tance of the Herbarium and knew that results of botanical research could be trustworthy only if the identity of the investigated plant material was soundly established. Moreover, the scientific name of any studied plant is the key to the literature, the treasury of formerly assembled data. The results of ; research become useful only after their publication, together with the correct scientific name of the plant under investigation.

The collection of ordered and named conserved plants, the Herbarium, supplied these names and conserved voucher specimens for later controls and reference. Treub described for these reasons the Herbarium as 'the backbone of his organisation', viz. the Bogor Botanical Gardens.

The Museum was situated in close proximity to the Herbarium Bogoriense building. This was replaced on the same spot by the present Herbarium Bogoriense after the World War II.

In Heyne's days the Gardens' Library housed one of the best collections of botanical books in the tropics and in the thirties reached its days of glory. A catalogue was never published but its card-index had over 60,000 references. War damages to the Library were small. During the war the Japanese selected a number of rare publications and some manuscripts but these were, eventually, recovered. After the Japanese capitulation, a number of publications were stolen and destroyed by robbers who wanted wrapping paper for marketed edibles. In the years after the war the Library was neglected.

Museum for Economic Botany

Being Head ('Chief-Conservator') of the Museum, Heyne made his office in a small, rectangular, one storied brick building less than a hundred meters distance from the Museum, the Library, and the Herbarium. It is shown as an unnumbered black rectangle in the extreme upper left corner in the section of the map of the Botanical Gardens made by M. Toha in 1942 (Photo). The prewar Herbarium building is marked on the map as No. 30; No. 31 indicates the Museum for Economic Botany. No. 32 housed the Botanical Library (Bibliotheca Bogoriensis, now Center for Agricultural Library and Research Communication). In the lower part of the map section are shown (within the Gardens boundary) Director's Residence (No. 23), the Gardens' Bureau (No. 22) and the Zoological Museum and Laboratory (No. 19). The main thoroughfare 'Groote Postweg' is now Jalan Ir.H. Juanda.

The map section demonstrates that the immediate surroundings of Heyne's office facilitated research in economic botany, two main sources of information being close at hand. To examine the conserved plant specimens in the Herbarium, or to consult the conserved recorded data on economic plants in the Library, only a few steps from Heyne's office were needed. To visit the Botanical Gardens with its unparalleled collections of living tropical plants at that time, Heyne just had to cross the Groote Postweg. There he found alive and growing many species to be described. There was also a trained staff to nurse newly arrived living samples of useful plants. In addition, Heyne grew some plots of plants under his personal supervision.

A section of map's Lands Plantentuin (Bogor Botanical Garden), No 19. Zoological Museum; No. 21. Industry Building; N0. 22. Office and Laboratory of the Director, Botanical Gardens; No. 30. The prewar Herbarium and Museum of Systematic Botany; No. 31. Botanical Library; Groote Postweg - Now Jalan Ir.H. Juanda.

Many years later, during the Japanese occupation and periods of absence of some of the Botanical Gardens' staff members, the author had at intervals to protect and coordinate (1943-1945) the interests of the Herbarium and the Library. He then occupied Heyne's former room and came to realize that he had his office in a strategically most efficient spot. However, in those days no trace of Heyne's presence showed there: the Museum had been removed and the experimental plots where he had grown his plants on trial had completely disappeared.

A few months before Heyne's arrival at Bogor Treub had increased the number of Herbarium personnel. Since 1903 Th. Valeton (1855-1929) was Head of the Herbarium. By the time Treub transferred J.J. Smith (1867-1947) to the Herbarium. Smith had been working more than ten years as an Assistant Curator in the Gardens and had shown a predilection for systematic botany. He was in 1905 promoted as Assistant in the Herbarium and in 1913 succeeded Valeton as its Head.

Another step towards a prosperous future of the Herbarium (and its direct utility to the planned Museum) was the appoint-ment of C.A. Backer (1874-1963) in 1905, a teacher in Batavia (now Jakarta). Backer was charged to identify plants grown in the Gardens and to study the Java flora (1914-1924: 'Botanist for the Java flora'). This again was one of Treub's master moves: Backer as a systematic botanist had no equal.

Heyne's associates and collaborators

When Heyne started his work in 1906 his neigh-bours in the Herbarium were Valeton, Smith, C.R.W.K. van Alderwerelt van Rosenburgh (a retired army officer, who kept on studying ferns and fern-like plants), and Backer.

The Museum had no botanically trained personnel. Only five years later, A. Ottens (1871-1925), a former army sergeant, who had collected useful plants in West Java, was appointed as an 'assistant' in the Museum. Heyne thought highly of him: 'he infused the Museum with enthusiasm'. Ottens became Custodian (or Keeper) of the Museum (1911) and remained in service till his death. Ottens was in particular interested in zingiberaceous plants (an interest he shared with Heyne and Valeton).

At first sight it might be expected that a fruitful cooperation between Heyne, his Museum, Botanical Gardens and its Herbarium would ensure the foundation for success having been laid. Heyne's book on the useful plants of Indonesia is an outstanding proof of the ultimate result. Outstanding but ultimate.

There were considerable problems to overcome. Boxes, shelves, bottles, labels, show cases, measures for preventing insect damage (a difficult point in those days), though partly acquired with the Museum collections received from the neighbouring 'Herbarium', had yet to be made. In the new Museum one room was reserved for 'technical', another for clerical work. Heyne succeeded in finding efficient local personnel.

Heyne was, however, not a trained taxonomist. The Indonesian plant cover is among the most diversified of the world. In his first year of office Heyne received from far and nigh samples of more than a thousand different plants reported useful. What were their scientifically correct names? Only those who have tried themselves to identify plant samples collected wild or semi wild in a botanically half explored country know the various problems to be solved. It is a time consuming job; often specimens have to be laid aside waiting for more information. Heyne was forced to conserve and stack bundles of unnamed specimens which remained useless and could not be exhibited until their identity had been established.

There was no other way than asking neighbourly help. In the Herbarium worked, to begin with, Valeton. Since his arrival in Bogor in 1892 he spent most of his time cataloguing and describing the species of the forest trees of Java; S.H. Koorders (1863-1919), officer in the Forestry Depart-ment, who had initiated a project to elaborate the taxonomy of the Java forest trees, collected specimens and ecological data. Koorders took sick leave in 1906 for an uncertain period and the Forestry Institute wanted hundreds of identifications without delay, but did not understand Valeton's close research and scientific doubts. Valeton, a kind and modest scholar, quietly assembling botanical facts of taxonomic importance, and pressed for time, could not be bothered too much with Heyne's specimens, though he helped occasionally (ginger allies).

Alderwerelt looked at the ferns but these meant little to Heyne. Smith was not interested in useful plant problems. Backer was charged to write the Java flora; he was away for months, collecting and walking in Java from its shores to the mountain tops. There was one most fortunate coincidence: both Heyne and Backer were workaholics; they fully understood and appreciated each other in that respect. While Heyne patiently and carefully compiled the thousands of data scattered in the literature, Backer although himself overcrowded with work, supplied him with hundreds of plant names. Heyne acknowledged 'his never failing 3 willingness to help and his continuous assistance'.

There was another source of information. Among the personnel of tropical Botanical Gardens and Herbaria there were always one or two autochthonous persons, exceptionally talented botanically and autodidacts. In Bogor Arsin was the first to go on record. In 1868 he started to work in the Bogor Gardens and because of his natural gift to identify plants he was appointed as 'mantri' (middle-low technician) in the Bogor Herbarium (1884). He arranged the Herbarium in accordance with Bentham & Hooker system. He collected plants in Java, Sumatra and Irian Jaya. Just before Heyne arrived to start the Museum he visited, together with Valeton, the Krakatoa volcano to study the recovery of the vegetation (1 March 1905) after the 1883 eruption. It may be safely assumed that he often helped Heyne in naming his specimens. Arsin died in 1913. He had been succeeded in 1894 by Sapei (cf. van Steenis-Kruseman, Cyclopaedia, 1950).

It was customary in Bogor (the outhor thinks, everywhere in the tropical sister institutes) to pre-determine any large collection of unidentified plants collected by an expedition as soon as possible after its arrival. One by one each specimen is given a cursory examination by a group of three or four experienced taxonomists, including probably a 'Sapei'.

Sapei (1870-1934) had the gift of retaining in his memory the image or exterior appearance of any plant specimen together with its name. Although botanists like Sapei are not .botanically schooled, their exceptional memory for plant forms and names often contributes to arranging provisionally the unnamed specimens according to families. Later on the family groups of specimens were studied closer by specialists.

There was another most useful activity of botanists like Sapei. In case the identity of a plant specimen appeared to be puzzling (the specimen being just a leafy branchlet, or consisting of some detached fruits or flower parts), Sapei may solve the problem. The 'incomplete' specimen was handed to him, he looked at it, he disappeared among the rows of herbarium boxes and he returned possibly after an hour, a day, a week, and he brought another already identified and labeled herbarium specimen that carried a scientific name and re-sembled the riddle plant. Quite often the unnamed specimen, after closer exami-nation, proved to be conspecific. It may happen that the unidentified specimen after all turned out to be different from Sapei's choice, but as a rule it was just the thing needed for solving the puzzle. Sapei supplied Heyne with guiding information, frequently when Backer, with his fabulous practical knowledge, was away.

Sapei Plant collector and herbarium assistant at the Herbarium Bogorriense

A duplicate of an Irian Jaya plant specimen kept at Utrecht, that had been collected in 1913, could not be identified and so had remained an unsolved puzzle. Sapei was entrusted with it and traced a seemingly closely related New Zealand specimen in the Herbarium Bogoriense. His choice was not approved (because the New Zealand material belonged to a family never recorded in Indonesia), but when after some years new Irian Jaya specimens arrived in Bogor, Sapei's judgment was found to be correct. Sapei became the botanist to establish the presence in Irian Jaya of the Southern beech, Nothofagus known to occur also in the far south of South America. The discovery of Notho-fagus was plant geographically most important and the late Prof. Dr. C.G.G.J. van Steenis honoured Sapei (post-humously) by naming a new variety after him: Nothofagus crenata var. sapeii Steen. (1975).

In Bogor the author met Sapei's grandson and successor, Nedi, who had the same talents and personality as Sapei. Arsin, Sapei and Nedi were among the 'head mantris' who contributed ably to the rise of the Bogor Botanical Gardens and the progress of tropical botany.

Heyne simply had no time to go into the country and collect specimens himself. Apart from day trips in the Bogor region he paid one brief visit to Central Sumatra (Jambi).

Specimens thought to be of economic value were sent haphazardly to the Museum or the Botanical Gardens, often in small and sometimes in large quantities. In 1916 more than a thousand plant specimens were received in the Museum. There was, however, no planned search outside the Bogor region, though all Indonesia was to be studied.

Half a dozen collectors were employed, fully or part-timely, to assemble data and specimens for the Museum. Mrs. M.J. van Steenis'-Kruseman referred to them in her invaluable Cyclopaedia (Flora Malesiana I, vol. 1, 1950).

  1. Achmad, collected in Simalur Island (Western N. Sumatra), September 1917-April 1920. Almost 2000 specimens in Herbarium Bogoriense, many in Forest Research Institute, some duplicates in Utrecht.
  2. V.M.A. Beguin, collected extensively. He was from 1919-1923 in Heyne's service, with C.A. Backer in the Kangean Archipelago (17 March 1919 - 20 May 1919) and on his own in Sumatra's East Coast. From 1920-1923 in N. Celebes, Kalimantan (Balikpapan), and the Moluccas (Ternate, Tidore, and Halmaheira). He was shot by the Japanese on 20 July 1943.
  3. J.B.H. Bruinier, collected for the Museum over 300 specimens on the islands fringing the east coast of Sumatra.
  4. J.M. Dumas, collected in Irian Jaya from 1899-1917, partly in Heyne's service and partly as an infatiguable and intrepid explorer. Most specimens went to the Forest Research Institute.
  5. C.W.F. Grashoff, was a professional collector and more than one year in Heyne's service before he died (1916). He collected specimens in Bangka (tin mines) and in S. Sumatra.
  6. H.A. Gusdorf, a retired army captain, collected during 1913-1914 for the Museum in W. Java and S. Sumatra.
  7. P.J. Lambach, collected about a hundred specimens for the Museum (1916) in Sumatra (Palembang, Lematang Ulu).
  8. A. Ottens (see above) collected on Java, in particular zingiberaceous plants and so contributed there to the Museum (1911-1925)

The woody specimens arriving in the Museum were studied by Heyne and his findings added to the preliminary data to be published. Then the specimens were conserved and stored in the Forest Research Institute Herbarium. As a rule only duplicates (if any) went to the Bogor Herbarium and overseas to the Herbarium in Utrecht. It would seem that this manner of locating the voucher materials of Heyne's book was unfortunate. A duplicate collection in the Forest Research Institute would have served all needs and the originals ought to have been placed in the Herbarium Bogoriense. The course of history aggravated the consequences of this policy.

In 1934, it had been seven years that Heyne had left Indonesia, no successor had been appointed. Then the Museum was renamed 'Handelsmuseum' (Trade Museum) and moved to Jakarta. The left half of the Museum building was occupied by the overcrowded Herbarium Bogoriense, which needed room badly (over 1000 metal boxes containing specimens were placed there in 1935).

Having lost leadership, and its natural surroundings for growth and updating, the Museum languished. It was reported 'lost' in 1947. Prof. Kostermans suggested that the Jakarta Trade Museum was situated 'somewhere near Hotel des Indes'. However, in 1946 mobs looting the Museum cast everything they could not use in the street and burned it.

A part of the Museum at its removal, anyhow, remained in Bogor and was incorporated, it would seem, in the Herbarium of the Forest Research Institute, where the large majority of conserved Heyne's plants also remained.

Not long after the capitulation of the Japanese army, the Forest Research Institute Herbarium was transported to Yogyakarta. Whether wholly or partly, it was not known, whether Bogor specimens are still conserved there. Kostermans recalled that in 1946 he saw that the Gurkha soldiers garrisoned in the Forest Research Institute had emptied metal boxes (the recta-ngular metal containers for bundles of conserved herbarium specimens, used both in the Bogor Herbarium and in the Forest Institute). They used the boxes as water cans and rice cookers. After the war the speci-mens conserved in Yog-yakarta were then re-turned to Bogor and kept as a Herbarium in the Forest Research Insti-tute. A cursory inspec-tion by Kostermans and Jansen (1989) proved that a number of Heyne's Museum plant The 1950 edition o specimens are still pre-sent there. They are im-portant as voucher specimens iof the relevant articles in Heyne's book. He usually referred to them in order to control the identity of the plant treated, and they are probably the last remnants of the Museum for Economic Botany's collections. Heyne's Museum, both in Bogor and in Jakarta and, anyhow, the large majority of his voucher specimens have now dis-appeared and the material basis of his handbook (up to the 1927 edition) is largely gone. The Museum had more or less a successor, called the 'Ethnobotanic Museum', a public show collection housed in the building of the Herbarium Bogoriense since 1988.

Though Heyne's Museum and the material base of his work are practically lost, his book survived. Heyne also published half a dozen small articles on various useful plants (see; Literature references).

Heyne's book: The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia)

De nuttige planten van Nederlandsch Indie (The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies) made its appearance in December ('June') 1913, viz. the first installment, treating the Gymnosperms and Monocotyledons. It was soon out of stock. The second installment appeared in 1916, the third in April 1917 while the fourth installment was in press. In 1922 the four installments were reissued (revised and completed), and in 1927 reedited.

The 1927 reprint was again revised and completed, in particular by the review of economically important Fungi written by C. van Overeem. The index of common plant names was a remarkable achievement of Heyne's. It was extracted from dozens of languages and dialects in the Indonesian Archipelago, and because these names mostly were attached to conserved plant specimens they were very valuable, both botanically and linguistically. When it became known that a new edition of F.S.A. de Clercq's botanical dictionary for the Netherlands East Indies was being prepared, Heyne decided to discontinue 'methodically collecting of such names to prevent doing the same work twice'. This obviously was a regrettable decision.

The 1950 edition of Heyne's book 'De nuttige planten van Indonesie'

In 1922 Heyne proposed to illustrate the next reprint of his book with a limited number of relevant pictures. The Herbarium Bogoriense, the Library and the Forest Institute held a wealth of suitable plant pictures and Heyne pointed out that apart from the printed reproduction no costs were involved in publishing them. The correct employ of the book's contents would be greatly enhanced, its usefulness accordingly increased, and most likely its sale enlarged, meaning that actually no additional xpenditure would appear to be involved.

The Director of the Department of Agriculture, Industry and Trade rejected Heyne's otherwise perfectly reasonable proposal. Heyne then made the mistake, often committed by scientists devoted to their work, in believing that the lasting values of his thought and research ought to supersede the ephemeral antics of politicians. He appealed to the Minister and supported his request with estimates and arguments. Of course, the Director's refusal was endorsed. Heyne finished his preface (1926) to the 1927 reprint by thanking for the help he had 'almost always' received and by noting that 'he remained silent regarding the factors that impeded his work in the last years'.

W.M. Doctors van Leeuwen was Director of the Botanical Gardens from 1918-1932. Very likely he was asked for advice on Heyne's request to allow illustrations, since he certainly had possibilities to have pictures added to Heyne's book should he wanted to do so. In 1926 Doctors van Leeuwen made the Gardens publish a standard work on the galls (zoocecidia) of Indonesia, written - it was stated - by him in co-operation with his wife, Mrs. Doctors van Leeuwen-Reijnvaan. The book on galls was illustrated with 1088 figures, 4 full-page co-lour plates, and 3 pages of photographs. The galls book was published at the same time as 'De nuttige planten' and Heyne may have alluded to it when writing the disillusioned preface to Vie unillustrated edition of his book.

Heyne repatriated, was made an Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau, and he never set foot in Indonesia again.

The book on the useful plants was, as Heyne put it, a descriptive catalogue of the plants found in popular use and of commercial importance (crops, foods, timbers, pigments, forest products). Ornamentals, in Heyne's days of much lesser economic value than at present, got very restricted attention in order to limit the size of the book.

The 1927 edition was issued in 3 volumes. The first two are text; successively Algae, Fungi, Lichens, Ferns, Gymnosperms and Angiosperms were treated: About 3000 species on 1450 pages. The Gymnosperms and Angiosperms were arranged family wise; their sequence and that of the genera follow De Dalla Torre and Harms. Each species had its scientific name, and eventually selected synonyms. In addition a summary of the common names is given according to the languages and dialects in Indonesia from West to East. Then follow some descriptive data, and a detailed (cautious) summary of all available information (field notes or literature). Heyne's 'De nuttige planten' is a monument to his never abating energy and painstakingly methodical compilation of thousands of data extracted from a mountain of literature. Heyne never tired and rarely smiled.

Once only, on p. 743, in the article on Cassia fistula L, Heyne remarked (and his remark still remained noteworthy seventy years later): 'In prewar days [World War 1] the export [of the laxative Cassia fistula pods] was far more important than at present, and the export trade was lively, also directly from the ports of Bonthain, Betung, Salayar and Roti, and from still other ports. It seems permitted to say, without the risk of political provocation, that the need for purgatives in the Soviet Republics is less felt than in the Imperial Russia where Cassia fistula was most in demand'.

A main source of reliable information was Rumphius' Herbarium Amboinense. Dr. C.A. Backer not only identified and named many hundreds of plant species, but also collected occasionally for Heyne and supplied living specimens.

Volume III of the 1927 edition reprinted ine'technical classification' of the useful plants. Heyne tried to delimit groups according to the commodity group of the plants. These detailed lists (pp. 1451-1662) represent at the same time a catalogue of the Bogor Museum: to each specific name a reference was attached to the Museum sample. The arrangement and enumeration testify to Heyne's untiring energy. He assembled a never surpassed diversity of samples of Indonesian useful plants. Volume III also contains the index of scientific and common plant names. This latter list is standard.

In 1950 a literatim reprint of the 1927 edition (two volumes) was published by W. van Hoeve, the Hague/Bandung; this was the 3rd edition, printed in Wageningen by H. Veenman & Sons. All phrases or names in the original, appearing not in compliance with the Sovereign State of Indonesia were deleted or changed, and also deleted were the references to the voucher samples in the lost Museum. Heyne's book, however, was and remained a source of information written in Dutch.

This Dutch edition severely limited its use in practice partly for political reasons, but evidently also because Heyne's book was clearly of importance to the whole of tropical S.E. Asia, but Heyne's tongue was not.

Translations of Heyne's book

There were in 1984 three copies of a typewritten English translation of the four installments (1913-1917); one at Kepong (Forest Research Institute), one in Kuala Lumpur (Forestry Department) and one in the Botanic Gardens Singapore. No other copies are known to exist, nor is known who made the translation or authorised it. It is said that the translation was carried out under the direction of the Forestry Department in Kuala Lumpur.

At Kepong Dr. F.S.P. Ng of the Forest Research Institute decided in 1984 to have this document retyped and recopied since the originals were 'in a fragile and faded condition'. This was done under the supervision of Dr. Brian Lowry (Balai Penelitian Ternak, Bogor). The author has not seen the originals nor this re-issue (which is said to date from 1922).

Apparently a translated 'Heyne' was published in bahasa Indonesia, i.e. Tumbuhan berguna Indonesia; terdiri atas empat jilid / karangan K.Heyne'. This Indonesian translation was made by Badan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kehutanan [Agency for Forestry Research and Development], published in Jakarta by Yayasan Sarana Wana Jaya in 1988.

Prof. Kostermans once wrote the author that Dr. F.H. Endert, since 1915 employed in the Forest Service and supervising forestry interests till the Japanese occupation, handed him his manuscript notes intended to update Heyne's work. Dr. Endert was in 1943 commissioned by Dr. S. Narusawa, the Japanese superior to Dr. Endert at the Forest Research Institute in Bogor, to draft a plan for a revised issue of Heyne's book. Endert's notes were entitled, 'Memorandum concerning the revision of K. Heyne: The useful plants of the Dutch East Indies', in Dutch, consisting of 38 pages. It was proposed to treat 3700 species (1400 genera). This enlarged the scope of Heyne's book by about 850 species considerably. The project, how ever, was never started (see; PROSEA Newsletter No. 8, April 1992).

The 1950-publishers suggested that Kos-termans would translate Heyne's book, 1927 edition, in English but he felt that just a translation would not be justified. An amended and supplemented version, in English, and possibly also in bahasa Indonesia, on the other hand would serve wide interests. He twice visited the relevant f Ministry in the Hague for assistance but his plans were turned down: 'a book of that nature has no meaning, and is useless to Indonesia.'

In 1968 a covenant for cultural co-operation was signed by the Netherlands and the Indonesian Govern-ments. The author was repeatedly approached by the 1950-publishers of Heyne with the request to translate the book. The author held the same opinion as Kostermans and inquired in 1969 among the relevant offices in the Wageningen Agricultural University whether it was felt that a renewed Heyne in English (and eventually in Indonesian) was considered to be desirable. The proposal was well received. After various preparatory steps the author succeeded in forming two provisional teams of co-workers, one in the Netherlands and one in Indonesia. The teams were to be composed of a taxonomist, an economic botanist, a supervising English translator, an illustrator, and two secretaries / documentalists. In the Netherlands the National Herbarium at Leyden was willing to co-operate with the Laboratory for Plant Taxonomy of the University in Wageningen, and in Indonesia the Herbarium Bogoriense and Kebun Raya Indonesia in Bogor also promised full support in every possible way. The new issue was to be illustrated and now ornamentals and in particular the chemistry and genetics of useful plants were to be treated in more detail. A detailed budget and a working programme were drafted and submitted.

In Indonesia the project was warmly welcomed. It received the full support and priority of Lembaga llmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI). Although both the International Agricultural Centre in Wageningen and the University endorsed the project, the final consent was for unexplained reasons withheld by the Netherlands Ministry. The official mission sent to Indonesia to finalize the programme of projects starting in 1978 was instructed just before leaving that the Economic Plants (Heyne) project, as had been suggested to and was expected by Indonesia, was to be refused. A factory for the production of milk and dairy products financed by the Netherlands was to be offered instead.

Of course, this involved some dis-appointment because of the loss of time, of careful prepared arrangements and of scientific prospects within reach, but it is not unusual that things turn out differently from what seems justified. The survey of the post-war history of Heyne's classic is instrumental for showing how Heyne's work developed step-by-step and expanded into the present PROSEA organization. Re-peated failures in the end led to success.

PROSEA programme

The largest cooperative scientific enterprise to produce a coherent manual on tropical economic botany ever brought into effect, began its career in 1985 by the initiative of Wageningen Agricultural University. The project was named 'PROSEA': a musical instrument of its aim: 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia'. It was envisaged to produce an illustrated multi volume hand-book on about 5000 useful South-East Asian plants, to be published in a reasonable period of time.

Differences with Heyne's work were its considerable larger scope, its commodity group approach, its illustrations, the inclusion of ornamental plants, and more technical information on all aspects of the plant considered, including e.g. paragraphs on taxonomy, trade, properties, growth and development, ecology, propagation, husbandry, yield, genetic resources, breeding, prospects and literature. The entire work was to be realized by contributions of specialists all over the world, in particular those working in tropical Asia.

In 1986 the 'Plant Resources of South-East Asia: Proposal for a handbook' was established. Scientific contacts increased gradually and financial support was continuously and increasingly received from national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Prof H.C.D. de Wit with his hand on headstone of the grave of K. Heyne in Bennekom (near Wageningen), Tne Netherlands. Inscription on the stone (in Dutch): 'Here rests Karel Heyne. Knight of the Order Orange Nassau, retired senior officer of the Netherland East Indies, born 30-8-1877, deceased 11-11-1947 and Ida Heyne-van Oorschot, born 22-7-1875, deceased 1-8-1957'.

In 1988 it was agreed by the 5 participating South-East Asian countries to establish a PROSEA Network involving key institutions of each participating country, viz. Indonesia (LIPI), Malaysia (FRIM), Papua New Guinea (UNITECH), the Philippines (PCARRD) and Thailand (TISTR). In 1991 Vietnam (IEBR) joined as the 6th country. The PROSEA Publication Office was located at Wageningen Agricultural University.

By the spring of 1994 seven volumes of the planned Handbook had been published :

Vol. 1: Pulses,

  • Vol. 2: Edible fruits and nuts.
  • Vol. 3: Dye and tannin-producing plants,
  • Vol. 4: Forages,
  • Vol. 5(1): Timber trees: Major commercial timbers,
  • Vol. 6: Rattans,
  • Vol. 8: Vegetables. The seven volumes totalled more than 2000 printed pages and dealt with 1790 species, written by 320 authors.

PROSEA is proceeding as expected. It intends to publish in total 20 volumes and finish the work around the year 2000.

Let us now return to the man whose work initiated PROSEA.

Scientific names recalling K. Heyne

Heyne, Ottens and Valeton shared a special interest in ginger plants and their allies. Zingiberaceous plants produce various spices, aromatics, medicine, and pigments used since the dawn of mankind everywhere in the S.E. Asian tropics. Valeton, after his retirement in 1913, returned to the Herbarium Bogoriense and made a special study of Zingiberaceae (1915-1919), in close touch with Heyne and his Museum. He named two species after Heyne: Nicolaia heyneana Val., (also spelled 'heyniana') and Curcuma heyneanum Val. & v.Zyp. The genus Nicolaia was interpreted in different ways (believed to be part either of Phaeomeria or of Amomum, or of both, and this resulted in 'Amomum heynianum (Val.) Bakh. f.'. This point has, eventually to be reconsidered in the PROSEA volume treating these Zingiberaceae.

It has not been decided whether Curcuma heyneanum ought to be maintained as a separate species as proposed by Valeton, or maintained as a subspecies or variety in Curcuma zedoaria (Berg.) Rose. Since time immemorial 'zedwar' was traded and used worldwide and planted in many places outside its homeland (India).

A much appreciated kind of ginger growing in the Bogor region and collected by Ottens was described by Valeton as Zingiber ottensii Val. This species kept its name unchanged.

C.A. Backer recognized Heyne's merit by naming a cyperaceous species after him, Mapania heyneana Backer (this proved to be identical with Thoracostachyum sumatranum (Miq.) Kurz). Moreover, Backer distinguished a new genus in sclepiadaceae, named it Heynella Backer (1950), and described one species Heynella lactea Backer ('lactea' refers to the milky juice present in asclepiadaceous plants). It is a shrublet, growing on trees in the Cadas Malang Nature Reserve (West Java), flowering with small umbels 01 little cream coloured flowers. A rare species, discovered (so far) only in the Cadas Malang Reserve.


The author is much indebted to Mrs. A.S.L Heyne, Wageningen (interviews, portrait, biography), to Mr. L.P.A. Heyne, Hellevoetsluis (photographs in Memorial album K. Heyne, 6 April 1927), to Dr. P.C.M. (doctor Paul) Jansen (various literature, numerous discussions and advice), to Prof. Dr. A.J.G.H. (Dok) Kostermans (historical data), and to Mrs. M.J. van Steenis-Kruseman (inspiring help, various information, data from Dr. van Steenis' card-indexes).


  • Backer, C.A., 1927. Soerabaia's Handelsblad. April 6, p. 3
  • Backer, C.A., 1936. Verklarend Woordenboek van wetenschappelijhe planten-namen. Batavia, p. 266.
  • Burck, W., 1892. Het Herbarium en Museum van 's Lands Plantentuin. In: 's Lands Plantentuin te Buitenzorg, 18 Mei 1817-18 Mei 1892, pp. 218-232. Chromca Botanica[1934] 1935: 12, 25.
  • Heyne, K., 1907-1926. Jaarboek Departe-ment van Landbouw, Handel and Nijverheid.
  • Heyne, K., 1907. Nota over het klapper-vraagstuk. Teysmannia 18: 52-64, 120-130.
  • Heyne, K., 1909. Kedele op de Europeesche markt. Teysmannia 20: 687-691. Heyne, K., 1911. Garoehout. Teysmannia 22: 411- 417.
  • Heyne, K., 1919/1920. Een massieve bamboe [Sc/7/zosfachyum]. Algemeen Landbouw-kundig Weekblad Ned. Indie: 551-552.
  • Heyne, K., 1919/1920. Copal. Ibid.: 1137-1138.
  • Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesie, 3e druk (2 delen). Van Hoeve, 's Gravenhage/Bandung. Rijnberg, Th. F., 1992. 's Lands Plantentuin, Buitenzorg 1817-1992; Kebun Raya Indonesia, Bogor. J. Oskamp.
  • Steenis.C.G.G.J.van, 1975. Mr.Sapeiandthe discovery of Nothofagus in New Guinea (special bibliographical section). Flora Malesiana Bulletin 6 (28): 2514-2516.
  • Steenis, C.G.G.J. van, 1975. Miscellaneous notes on New Guinea plants XI. Blumea 22 (2): 170-172 (cf. Addenda, corrigenda et emendanda. Flora Malesiana I, 9 (3):
  • 563). Steenis-Kruseman, M.J. van, 1950. Malaysian plant collectors and collections
    [Cyclopaedia]. Flora Malesiana I, 1: 230 (and passim).
  • Wit, H.C.D. de, 1949. Short history of the phytography of Malaysian vascular plants. Flora Malesiana I, 4(2): C-CLV.

PROSEA Network

Network Office South-East Asia
Dr. Junus Kartasubrata, Head c/o Research and Development Centre for Biology - LI PI
Jalan Ir.H. Juanda22
P.O. Box 234 Bogor16122
Fax: (62) (0251)322859, 336425

Indonesia Country Office
Dr. S. Kadarsan, Programme Leader Research and Development Centre tor Biology - LIPI
Jalan Ir. H. Juanda 22 Bogor16122

Malaysia Country Office
Dr. Salleh Mohd. Nor, Programme Leader Director-General, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM)
Jalan FRI, Kepong Karung Berkunci 201 52109 Kuala Lumpur,
Phone: (03) 6342633
Telex: FRIM-MA-27007
Fax: (60)(3) 6367753

Papua New Guinea Country Office
Dr. P. Siaguru, Programme Leader Forestry Department PNG University of Technology (UNITECH)
Private Mail Bag Lae
Papua New Guinea
Phone: (675) 434661, 434651
Telex: NE 42428
Fax: (675) 434455,457622, 424067

Philippines Country Office
Dr. B.P. del Rosario, Programme Leader Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) Paseo de Valmayor
P.O. Box 425, Los Banos, Laguna
The Philippines 4030
Phone: 50014,50015,50017-50020
Telex: 40860 PARRS PM
Fax: (63) (094) 50016

Thailand Country Office
Dr. Prapandh Boonklinkajorn, Programme Leader Director Agro-Technology Dept. Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR)
196 Phahonyothin Road Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Phone: 579-1121 -30, 579-5515
Telex: 21392 TISTR TH
Fax: (66) (2)561-4771

Vietnam Country Office
Prof. Dr. Nguyen Tien Ban, Programme Leader Department of Botany Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources - NCNST
Nghia Do, Tu Liem Hanoi
Phone: (84) (4) 346306
Fax: (84) (4) 352483

Publication Office
Dr. J.S. Siemonsma, Head Wageningen Agricultural University (WAU) Haarweg 333
P.O.Box 341 6700AHWagenigen
The Netherlands
Phone: (08370) 84587
Telex: 45917 BURLU
Fax: (31) (8370) 82206

c/o Herbarium Bogoriense - RDCB
P.O. Box 234 Bogor 16122