This paper has been composed on the occasion of the retirement of Dr. van Steenis as a professor of botany and director of the Rijksherbarium, Leiden. He was born in 1901, educated at Utrecht, came to Bogor, Indonesia in 1927, settled in Holland in 1950. He founded the Flora Malesiana, and ranks as the greatest authority on the botany of Malesia and adjacent regions. Here are expounded, by his pupil and collaborator, the main subjects and leading ideas in his published works, the most important ones of the latter mentioned. Considered are his work on plant areas, the methodical fact finding by Dr. Van Steenis and Mrs. M. J. van Steenis-Kruseman, his work on the discontinuity among plants forms, on vegetation and ecology, his promotion of the relations between man and nature and of education, his work on discontinuities in plant distribution. His personal contributions to taxonomy in the stricter sense are also discussed.