Frogs, geese and flowers: the first canon of Dutch nature


The Netherlands now has its own (unofficial) canon of 50 of the country’s most characteristic plants and animals, from the snowdrop to the wolf.

The aim of the book is to educate a broad audience about nature in the Netherlands, Nicole van Hoorn, director of publishing house KNNV told broadcaster NOS.

“Children don’t get out and about as much anymore and knowledge about nature is not what it was,” Van Hoorn said at the book’s presentation to nature minister Christianne van der Wal at the Naturalis museum in Leiden.

The list, along the lines of the canon of Dutch history, was put together by nature journalist and writer Dick de Vos. “I thought: why is there no canon of Dutch nature? Nature is fascinating, it is comforting. I felt as if I was walking around in a sweet shop when I wrote it,” De Vos said.

The list features such plants as the nettle, which De Vos places in its historical and ecological context, the fly agaric fungus and the ‘soil engineer of the country – the earth worm.

De Vos also includes the herring in the canon as an important part of Dutch culture even though it is caught mostly off the coasts of Scotland, Norway and Denmark.

The American crayfish, an invasive species which has now made its home in the Netherlands, is also part of the list.

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