- Evolutionary ecology research
- Horticultural research
- Plant diversity research
- Plant pathology research
- Herbarium & resources
- NSW Herbarium
- Plant databases
- Australian PlantBank
- Art and illustration
- Plant Identification & Botanical Information Service
- Plant Disease Diagnostic Service
- Forensic Services
- Science staff
- Amalie Dietrich project
- Scientific publications
A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens
The collection of the National Herbarium of New South Wales consists of over 1.2 million plant specimens. The majority are from within Australia. It is the largest collection in the world of the plants of New South Wales. The collection consists of plant specimens gathered by staff, as well as specimens from donations and exchange with other herbaria in Australia and overseas.
Herbarium specimens remain useful for study for hundreds of years, if properly cared for. Each specimen has a label recording its scientific name and where, when and by whom it was collected. The specimens provide information for scientific research into plant relationships, and they are a record of past and present plant distribution. This information is essential for making decisions about the conservation of our natural heritage.
The herbarium collection represents a comprehensive and accurate biodiversity record through time (as the flora changes) and space (representing the variation and distribution of species). This vital part of our scientific heritage requires expert scientific and technical curation. A key objective over the next few years is to unlock the rich store of information in the herbarium through databasing the collection information as part of Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.
Australia's Virtual Herbarium
Australia's Virtual Herbarium (AVH) is an on-line botanical information resource accessible via the Internet. This collaborative website provides immediate access to the wealth of data associated with the scientific plant collections held in each major Australian herbarium. Australian herbaria house over six million specimens that date from the earliest days of European exploration. They are the primary source of information of classification and distribution of plants, including algae, and fungi. In the future, the records of the AVH will be enhanced by images, descriptive text and identification tools.
Specimens in our Herbarium collection are arranged in a classification system based on R.M. Dahlgren (1980) Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society 80: 91-124. Click here for the Sydney link to Australia's Virtual Herbarium.
53% of the Herbarium collection, including all vascular specimens collected in New South Wales, has been entered into the herbarium database ‘NSW Collections’ as part of the specimen curation process. All data processed specimens - usually herbarium sheets - are given a unique barcode to assist with the management of the collection. All incoming collections made by staff, and outgoing specimens sent on loan to other institutions, are data processed.
The PlantNET database, replacing the publication ‘Census of New South Wales Plants’ (Jacobs & Pickard 1981), continues to be checked against other records and newly accessioned specimens so that it is a current reference for staff, of the known distribution of species.
Using and maintaining the Herbarium collection
Our aims are to
Collections Section Report 2011-2012
Dr Dale Dixon, Manager Collections
The Collection Section comprises the National Herbarium of New South Wales preserved plant collection, the Daniel Solander Library, Botanical Illustration Service, Herbarium Specimen Preparation Facility and the Red Box Gallery. Each area is staffed by specialised staff responsible for a specific area of the Collection. Key highlights of the section for 2011/2012 include updating the Collection Loan Policy and Destructive Sampling Policy; three exhibitions in the Red Box Gallery; a Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation grant to begin the process of digitising selected parts of the Daniel Solander Library and generous funding from the Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens to purchase ten specially designed trolleys for freezing the collection. Many staff across the organisation also continued to assist with the eradication of Drugstore Beetle (Stegobium paniceum) from the collection.
This financial year the Red Box Gallery hosted three exhibitions. Exhibition highlights included a rehang of the very popular Paginated Garden competition. This popular exhibition arose from an art competition held within the gardens. Originally planned as a short exhibition in Rathborne Lodge, the Paginated Garden Exhibition proved so popular that its season was extended in the Red Box Gallery; the Artist in Residence exhibition by Helen Earl whose delicate porcelain ceramics explored and interpreted the history of the gardens from an artists point of view and the ever popular Flockton Award. Now in its ninth year, this year the Flockton Award teamed up with the opening of Botanica an exhibition hosted by members of the Foundation & Friends.
Preparations for the commencement of Type Digitisation Project began. This Global Plants Initiative which is funded through the Andrew Mellon Foundation will eventually result in the image capture of the 9000 type specimens held by the National Herbarium of New South Wales. Dale Dixon attended the Global Plants Initiative 5th Annual Meeting in Madrid in April which is a meeting of all participants in the Type Digitisation Project. Other staff travelled interstate to undertake training in the use of the specialised equipment needed to facilitate image capture throughout the project. As part of the project the herbarium has received funding for a temporary part time technician, a digital camera and flat bed scanner.
During 2011/2012, the collection expanded with the addition of a special weed collection donated by Dr Peter Michael from the University of Sydney and the transfer of the very large and significant wood collection from NSW Forestry. And as always we are ever grateful to our volunteers in the Herbarium Specimen Preparation Facility for processing 8337 specimens for incorporation into the main collection and data checking 1432 specimens.