Brazil’s Nature on Show in ‘Mystery and Destiny’

A travelling exhibition of Brazilian botany is making its way across Europe, with stops in Spain and Germany. The exhibit has special relevance for  Germany, which in  2013 and 2014 will celebrate its special   relationship with Brazil through the theme “where ideas connect.”

In Spain the exhibition was inaugurated  by Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso at a special ceremony at the University of Salamanca.  the show is also on view  tat the Casa do Brasil in Madrid.

Click here for a review of exhibit in the  national daily newspaper El Mundo:


Brazil’s former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (L), receiving engraving from FAPESP prsident Celso Lafer (center). FAPESP scientific director Prof Carlos Henrique Brito Cruz (R) looks on.

In Germany celebration stared early with a tribute to the forerunners of this special relationship – the German naturalist, explorer and plant collector Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius and his zoologist companion Johann Baptist von Spix.

Sponsored by the Berlin Botanical Museum and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), a new exhibition Brazilian Nature: Mystery and Destiny profiles von Martius’ masterwork, the Flora brasiliensis. Begun as a result of a three year, 10,000 km long journey through Brazil (1817-1820) and published over a 60-year period, the Flora brasiliensis remains the most complete survey of plants in a country that hosts almost 20 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

Brazilian Nature: Mystery and Destiny shows how von Martius’ work remains relevant today and has taken on new life through its online version. A new project, the Plano Fanerogamica of São Paulo State, shows how botanists are carrying on the tradition by mapping all the plants in their state.

One of Brazil’s principal agencies for funding of scientific research, FAPESP continues to build on the foundations laid by von Martius through its own  BIOTA program. Since 1999 this project to catalogue the flora of southern Brazil, has involved 1,200 scientists (900 researchers and students from São Paulo, 150 collaborators from other states and 80 from abroad). It has led to the discovery of more than 500 new species, and generated 20 books and almost 1,000 scholarly articles.

Brazilian Nature: Mystery and Destiny, is built up of stunning photographs, many of them matching the locations and the fauna sketched or painted by von Martius and his fellow-travellers almost 200 years ago. Maps show  botanists’ work in Brazil, then and now. You can enjoy a virtual preview by visiting:


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