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Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève

WelcomeScientific Activities ResearchersF. Stauffer

Fred Stauffer


Head curator ad interim of the herbarium of Geneva (Phanerogams), curator at the herbarium of Geneva (Monocotyledons p.p.), palm biologist, responsible of the Micro-morphology Lab (CJBG). Lecturer “Morphologie et Anatomie végétales” (University of Geneva)                                                            


Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques
Ch. de l'Impératrice 1
CP 71 CH-1292 Chambésy, Genève
Tél. (+41) 22 418 51 78
Fax (+41) 22 418 51 01


Herbarium duties
Beside my scientific tasks in the herbarium, including curation of part of the Monocotyledon collections and supporting projects launched by the Head Curator (Laurent Gautier), I am also responsible of the Geneva programs on exchanges, donation of new specimens, internal loans and purchase of specimens. Other duties include the organization of all activities associated to the mounting of new or historical specimens (integration of historical holdings to the Geneva general collection).


Palm research at CJBG
Palms (Arecaceae) research in the Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Geneva covers a wide range of scientific disciplines. It all started in 2004 and since then several projects on Neotropical and African palms have been launched, in particular focusing on floristic and taxonomic aspects. The structural biology of palms (flower, leaf and stem morphology and anatomy) has been also part of our research. Botanical history, a discipline that benefits of the outstanding richness of the herbarium and the library of the Conservatory of Geneva, makes part of our general interest and is subject of active research. Master and PhD students (either in Switzerland or abroad) play a key role towards the development of most projects and collaboration with local partners is a critical component for our research activities.

Current research activities
1.- Multidisciplinary study of West African palms (Arecaceae): Palm floras of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo and Benin.

This wide scope initiative aims to inventory all native palms from Western Africa, including uses and common names, as well an assessment of their conservation status. Structural information (morphology and anatomy) have been in particular obtained from useful palm taxa (Borassus, Hyphaene, Raphia), but in-depth efforts have been focused on the rattan genera (Calamus, Eremospatha and Laccosperma) Several master students have successfully contributed to this project: Doudjo Ouattara (Ghana and Ivory Coast); Simona da Giau (Ivory Coast) and Loïc Michon (Togo and Benin).


Some important publications:

Stauffer, F. W., D. Ouattara & A. L. Stork. 2014. Palmae. Pages 326-354 in Lebrun, J.-P. & A. L. Stork (eds.). Tropical African Flowering Plants: Monocotyledons 2, vol. 8. Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, Switzerland.

Ouattara, D., P. Ekpe, A. Bakayoko & F. W. Stauffer. 2015. Ethnobotany and Conservation of palms from Ghana. Palms 59: 85-103.

Cosiaux, A., L. M. Gardiner, D. N. Ouattara, F. W. Stauffer, B. Sonké & T. L.P. Couvreur. 2017. An endangered West African rattan palm: Eremospatha dransfieldii. Biodiversity Data Journal

2.- A monographic study of the palm genus Hyphaene

This initiative aims to provide complete information on the enigmatic, mostly African, palm genus Hyphaene (Coryphoideae: Borasseae), often called “Doum palms” or “Ginger Bread palms”. Although mainly focused on taxonomic, floristic and morphologic aspects, this project aims also to provide detail data on phylogenetics, population genetics, ethnobotany (in collaboration with M. Didier Roguet) in the group. Extensive field work in Djibouti (2015), Tanzania (2016) and South Africa (2017) has been kindly funded by the A. Lombard (2015) Extraordinary Grant, awarded by the Société de Physique et d’Histoire Naturelle de Genève (SPHN). The website explains in detail several aspects of this project and shows de most recent results obtained in the field missions, in the herbaria and in the lab.

Web site of the project:


3.- Floral structure and systematics in selected groups of the palm family

Since already 10 years active research (including at least 5 master projects) has focused on morphologic and anatomic features of palm flowers. The palm groups studied include all subfamilies, but major efforts have been carried out on the morphologically divers subfamily Coryphoideae and selected groups of Arecoideae (i.e. Chamaedoreeae). Recent studies have also highlighted a new nectary type in the family (Eugeissona: Calamoideae)


Some important publications:

Balhara, M., F. W. Stauffer, H. Balslev & A. Barfod. 2013. Floral structure and organogenesis of the wax palm Ceroxylon ceriferum (Arecaceae; Ceroxyloideae). American Journal of Botany 100: 2132-2140.

Guevara, L.; D. Jáuregui & F. W. Stauffer. 2014. Estructura floral de dos especies de Trachycarpeae (Arecaceae). Rev. Biol. Trop. 62 (3): 1137-1146.

Castaño, F., F. W. Stauffer, X. Marquinez, M. Crèvecoeur & M. Collin, J.-C. Pintaud & J. Tregear. 2014. Floral structure and development in the monoecious palm Gaussia attenuata (Arecaceae; Arecoideae). Ann. Bot. doi:10.1093/aob/mcu133.

Castaño, F., X. Marquínez, M. Crèvecoeur, M. Collin, F. W. Stauffer and J. W. Tregear. 2016. Comparison of floral structure and ontogeny in monoecious and dioecious taxa of the palm tribe Chamaedoreeae (Arecaceae: Arecoideae). Int. J. Plant Sci. 177(3):247–262. 2016.

Stauffer, F.W., S. Siegert, I. Silberbauer-Gottsberger & G. Gottsberger. 2016. Floral structure in the Asian palm Eugeissona tristis Griff. (Arecaceae: Calamoideae), and description of a new nectary type in the family. Plant Syst. Evol. DOI 10.1007/s00606-016-1292-8.

4.- Palm Flora of Venezuela: a floristic and systematic approach

A long-term project on the Venezuelan Palm Flora (30 genera, 110 species) aims to provide identification keys and detailed morphological descriptions for all native taxa present in this northern South American country. Major collections efforts in Venezuela include the Coastal Cordillera, the llanos, the Orinoco Delta and the Venezuelan Amazon.


Some important publications:

Stauffer, F. W. 1999. Datos preliminares a la actualización de la flora de palmas (Arecaceae) de Venezuela. Acta Bot. Venez. 22(1): 77:107.

Stauffer, F. W. 2000. (Ed.). Contribución al estudio de las palmas (Arecaceae) del Estado Amazonas, Venezuela. Scientia Guayanae 10. 197 pp.

Llamozas, S., R. Duno de Stefano, W. Meier, R. Riina, F.W. Stauffer, G. Aymard, O. Huber y R. Ortiz. 2003. Libro Rojo de la Flora de Venezuela. Provita, Fundación Polar, Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela “Dr. Tobias Lasser”, Conservation Internacional. Caracas, 554 pp.

Ramia, M. & F. Stauffer. 2003. Monocotiledóneas. En: Biodiversidad en Venezuela. (Aguilera, M., A. Azócar & E. González-Jiménez, eds.). Fundación Polar, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología. Caracas. Pp: 152-162.

5.- Botanical History (The Humboldt and Bonpland Monocotyledon Collections, The Martius Palm Collections)

Botanical history is important for our understanding of the origin and fate of benchmark collections and their interpretation in a taxonomic context (i.e. accurate identification of type specimens). In our case, major efforts have been carried out in order to characterise the Monocotyledon collections gathered by the Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and the French Botanist Aimé Bonpland’s in the frame of their expedition to the Neotropics (1799-1804). Current efforts are made to characterise the main palm sets associated to renowned palm expert Carl Phillip Friedrich von Martius and currently deposited in the herbaria of Munich (M) and Brussels (BR).


Some important publications:

Stauffer, F. W. & J. Stauffer. 2010. Les frères Goujaud-Bonpland: deux destins, une passion commune, la botanique. In: Aimé Bonpland un naturaliste rochelais aux Amériques (1773-1858). G. Martinière & T. Lalande, eds.) Rivage des Xantons, Paris, pp. 68-88.

Stauffer, F. W., J. Stauffer & L. J. Dorr. 2012. Bonpland and Humboldt specimens, field notes, and herbaria; new insights from a study of the monocotyledons collected in Venezuela. Candollea 67: 75-130.

Stauffer, F. W. & J. Stauffer. 2017. The palm (Arecaceae) collections gathered by Bonpland and Humboldt in their American journey: origin and fate of the specimens and typifications. Candollea 72(1): 5-22.

Current scientific collaborations
Thomas Couvreur & Suzanne Mogea (IRD- University of Yaounde): Monographic study of the African palm genus Raphia. Collaboration with this research group is mainly focused on taxonomical and morphological aspects. Suzanne Mogea has spent research visits to the laboratory of micro-morphology of CJB in 2015, 2016 and one planned for spring 2017. In particular she undertook anatomical studies of leaves and flowers in Raphia from Cameroon and Gabon in the laboratory of Micro-morphology of CJB.

Pélagie Mbandu Luzolawo & Lubini Constantin (University of Kinshasa, RDC): Floristic studies on native palms of the Democratic Republic of Congo

Yaroslavi Espinoza (Venezuelan National Herbarium) and Dr. Mauricio Krivoy (AVEPALMAS): Floristic studies on the palms of Venzeuela

Sophie de Smedt (Herbarium BR) and Hajo Esser (Herbarium M): Historical studies on the palm taxa collected by C.F.P von Martius in his travel to Brazil (1827-1830), as well as palm taxa described by him in the monumental treatment Historia Naturalis Palmarum

Gaspar Morcote and Lauren Raz (Universidad Nacional de Colombia): Study of phytolits in African palms. This interesting project aims to produce a complete atlas of phytolits represented in native African palms with the aim to provide useful tools for paleobotanical reconstructions and archaeological studies.

André Piuz (Natural History Museum of Geneva): Permanent collaboration is undertaken in the frame of our observations with the Scaning Electronic Microscope

Teaching activities (University of Geneva)
Beside my activities in the Conservatory I am also responsible of the course on Plant Anatomy and Morphology (theory and practical activities) for the 1st semester Pharmacy students at the University of Geneva. I also actively participate in the course of Tropical Botany (Dr. Gautier), the Master of Biodiversity and Systematics, and the “Stage de Consultation d’Herbier”, all of them associated to the Faculty of Science of the University of Geneva. Master projects associated to some of the projects presented here above are available upon request.

Proposal of master projects
Since 2005 about 9 master students have undertaken projects on palm research. In most cases those projects include field work to tropical countries, study of herbarium specimens and anatomical work (also including Scanning Electronic Microscopy). Master projects associated to some of the projects presented here above are available upon request. Do send me a message to request for specific master projects (