Darwin & Drinks

Lecture series by Norbert Peeters, botanical philosopher (in English this year)

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Would you like to know more about the plant world? Then come join us at Darwin & Drinks, a special series of lectures by botanical philosopher Norbert Peeters at the Greennest Gallery in the Botanic Gardens Utrecht.

While enjoying a drink, let Norbert take you on a breathless journey to the plant world of Darwin with his rich storytelling.  You will learn more about the role of insects in flower pollination, the fertilization of orchids, and the eating habits of carnivorous plants.  By the end of the lecture, you will most certainly be enthusiastic about the plant kingdom as Darwin himself!

Thursday 25 April | Greennest Gallery
Flowers and their pollinators
19:00 walk in | 19:30 lecture | 21:00 drinks
Ticket: € 11,00 p.p. | students: € 8,50 p.p.

Charles Darwin was one of the first to demonstrate how intimately the lives of flowering plants and pollinators are connected. The palette of bright colours and powerful perfumes entice insects and other animals to visit flowers. Today, everyone is aware that pollinators such as bees and other insects play a crucial role in the sex life of flowering plants. But in Darwin’s time, almost nothing was known about this strange ménage à trois. At the time, it was still widely believed that floral beauty was placed in nature by an omnipotent Creator for our pleasure. 

Thursday 23 May | Greennest Gallery
The dispersion of seeds
19:00 walk in | 19:30 lecture | 21:00 drinks
Ticket: € 11,00 p.p. | students: € 8,50 p.p.

Most animals can easily travel across huge swaths of land, swim through water, or fly through the air. This is not the case for plants. As soon as a seed germinates it is rooted to the spot. But that doesn’t mean plants can’t migrate. In fact, the plant kingdom has a big bag of tricks at its disposal to ensure a bright future for their offspring. Some plants provide their progeny with hooks and serrated teeth to hold on to the fur of animals, while others are endowed with wings with which they can glide through the air. Charles Darwin was one of the first naturalists to examine this wonderful diversity in seed dispersal tactics. In this lecture we will unravel the meaning of seed dispersal.

Thursday 27 June | Greennest Gallery
Plant intelligence
19:00 walk in | 19:30 lecture | 21:00 drinks
Ticket: € 11,00 p.p. | students: € 8,50 p.p.


We often associate the name Charles Darwin with his journey with the HMS Beagle, his stay in the Galapagos Islands, and his publication of On the Origin of Species (1859), in which he explains his theory of evolution. But did you know that Darwin is also a pioneering botanist? Indeed, with publications of various books and dozens of articles about plants, Darwin has brought on a real landslide in botany.

About Norbert Peeters

‘I am not a botanist. I do not stay in research laboratories, I do not hug trees and I do not own a botanical drum with a magnifying glass and a scoop.’ This is how Norbert Peeters describes himself on his website botanischefilosofie.nl.

Norbert's interest in plants arose from the philosophy lectures of professor Th.C.W. Oudemans at Leiden University. "In his lectures, man fell off his pedestal. Man turned out not to be a crown on creation because he is equipped with rationality, language, art and morality, but rather just a cousin of the chimpanzee and a distant cousin of the amoeba." Professor Oudemans ánd Charles Darwin's findings about the plant kingdom taught Norbert to look at plants in a different way, which eventually led to the publication of the book Plantaardig in 2014.

However, the intrigue continued to grow, and the plant peculiarities that Norbert encountered during his research for this book ultimately led him to conceptualize the plant theory of Darwin in a unique way - Botanical philosophy (2016). Norbert argues for a different view of the plant world. Rather than seeing plants anchored at the bottom ranking of living nature, we should take pleasure in knowing that plants actually use cunning techniques to multiply, send distress signals to peers and are highly tempting. It’s high time for a different look at all the greenery around us!  

Practical information

Greennest Gallery, Botanical Gardens Utrecht (Entrance for lecture: Harvardlaan 10)

This lecture series was presented previously in 2018, but due to success we are showcasing it a second time. You can follow the lectures as a series, but they can also be followed separately.

At the pop-up bar you order your drinks at the most friendly rates (cash only!). So while enjoying a nice beer or another (mixed) drink, you can learn new insights and enjoy great company. Of course, non-alcoholic snacks such as juices and lemonades are also provided. At 10 p.m. the drink ends and wisdom begins.

Access to the Greenest Gallery at the Botanical Gardens:
You'll find the Greennest Gallery in one of the tropical greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens. At the time of the lecture the main entrance of the Botanical Gardens will be closed. You can use the entrance at the back (address: Harvardlaan 10). You can also park your car here. Mind you, the gate will be closed at the start of the lecture (7.30 pm), so don’t be late! You're welcome from 7 pm in The Greennest Gallery.