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National Herbarium of New South Wales

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.

The Herbarium’s main research collection is open to researchers by prior appointment only. To arrange an appointment please contact:

Manager Collections, Shelley James
National Herbarium of New South Wales
herbarium.nsw [at] rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
(02) 9231 8013

Public Reference Collection 

This collection is available for people looking to identify their own plant collections. To access this collection please contact the Botanical Information Service (botanical.is [at] rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au).

Tours of the National Herbarium of New South Wales and the Daniel Solander Library

Public tours are regularly scheduled for the Herbarium and Library. Please see the What's On page for dates and booking information.
Tours for special interest groups may be requested (maximum 15 people per tour). For more information, please contact:

Manager Collections, Shelley James
National Herbarium of New South Wales
herbarium.nsw [at] rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
(02) 9231 8013

For education group tours, please contact:
School Booking Officer
(02) 9231 8111

The Herbarium is part of an international network of plant specimen loans and exchange.

Herbarium Loans

Researcher’s wishing to loan specimens from the Herbarium must abide by the Herbarium’s Conditions of Loan and Exchange. 

All requests for loan material must be made in writing by the head of the borrowing institution and addressed to:

Manager Collections
National Herbarium of New South Wales
Botanic Gardens and Centennial Parklands
Mrs Macquaries Road
Sydney NSW 2000
AUSTRALIA

Specimen Exchange

Most herbaria in the world and within Australia have a longstanding tradition of exchanging herbarium specimens for the purpose of a broader diversity of species. Duplicate material of plant collections is donated to other institutions throughout the world andin return, NSW receives exchange specimens from these organisations. 

All herbarium label information for exchange specimens from NSW are sent electronically to the receiving organisation in HISPID (Herbarium Information Standards and Protocols for Interchange of Data) format. We encourage the full transfer of electronic data with herbarium collections being donated to NSW.

Regulations governing herbarium loans and exchange

The loan and exchange of specimens or samples can only occur between registered scientific institutions. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and Australian Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 control the movement of specimens and parts of specimens of some taxa. 

Strict quarantine regulations apply to the importation of herbarium specimens into Australia. Institutions wishing to send material to NSW should first contact the Manager Collections for information on quarantine requirements.

Herbarium specimens of most plants can be preserved as permanent reference material by careful pressing and drying followed by storage in dry, insect-free conditions.Although lacking the freshness and colour of live material, well-collected and prepared specimens with field notes usually provide most of the features needed for identification and systematic research. 

For information on the collection, preparation and preservation of plant specimens please read the chapter on ‘How to Collect Plants’.

NOTE
Collections must not be made in national or state parks or nature reserves, nor of protected plant species unless a permit has been obtained from the appropriate authority (in NSW it is the Director-General, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service). Such permits are generally only given for collections made in the course of scientific studies.

For information on identifying plant specimens please see Plant Information and Plant Identification Service.

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