The National Herbarium of New South Wales (NSW) is one of Australia’s largest reference collections of plant specimens. It is used to study the classification, ecology, and evolution of plants in NSW, Australia and the Pacific, providing a record of plant distributions through time and space.
With its beginnings in 1853 when the then Director of the Gardens, Charles Moore, made a modest collection of approximately 1,800 native specimens, the Herbarium has continued to expand its collection and today houses over 1.43 million specimens.
As one of the most significant botanical resources in the Southern Hemisphere, the collectons include:
- Over 11,000 type specimens – the specimens that give the name to new plant species.
- 25,000 Australian vascular plant species, including the 6,000 occurring in New South Wales, as well as representative specimens from other parts of the world.
- Many specimens from Australia’s early explorers, including those collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander in 1770 on Captain James Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific.
- Internationally significant collections of plant specimens including algae, bryophytes, cycads and the flowering plant families Asteraceae, Casuarinaceae, Cyperaceae, Fabaceae, Lamiaceae, Myrtaceae, Orchidaceae, Poaceae and Restionaceae.
This vast collection of specimens and data they contain is a key resource for local and international botanical researchers. The collection is essential for informing and making decisions about the conservation and management of our natural environment and comprise a continuing and vital part of our scientific heritage.