Image: Detail, Type specimen of Banksia serrata collected by Banks and Solander, Botany Bay, 1770 (MEL583558), National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
Curation notes by: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria with Lucinda Horrocks, Wind & Sky Productions.Contributors
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For hundreds of years natural historians and scientists have been collecting specimens of algae, plants and fungi for research and classification.
Dried samples are stored in a special archive called a herbarium. It is similar to a library, but the information is stored in biological form rather than in book form. The first herbarium was established in Kassel, Germany in 1569. Today there are herbaria in most major cities around the world.
Herbarium collections form a valuable time capsule of information about plants, including where they are found, when they flower and what’s stored in their DNA. The collections are continually being added to and researched. They form an important source of both historical and contemporary data for those studying the impacts of climate change.
The National Herbarium of Victoria at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is internationally significant and one of Australia’s scientific and historical treasures. Among the Australian plants in the collection are those collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander at Botany Bay in 1770. Other historical riches include over 2,000 specimens collected by Robert Brown during Flinders' circumnavigation of Australia (1801–1805), and several hundred specimens collected on Burke and Wills' expedition. Important twentieth-century acquisitions include the herbaria of Raleigh Black, Cliff Beauglehole and Ilma Stone, and a collection of wood-rot fungi from CSIRO.
Curation notes by: Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria with Lucinda Horrocks, Wind & Sky Productions.