Management and curation

The algal collections contain specimens from a diverse group of unrelated organisms, preserved in a range of different ways.

Find out more about the curatorial unit types in the slideshow beneath the table.

Curatorial unit

No. of specimensApprox % databased

Herbarium sheets



Boxed Collection



Microscope Slides: marine



Microscope Slides: freshwater



Liquid: Marine



Liquid: Freshwater



Unincorporated algal collections

c. 15,000

  At folder/batch level

Historical bound volumes

c. 80 volumes

  At volume level

Curatorial units

Algal herbarium sheet

Herbarium specimen of Alaria esculenta.

Herbarium sheets

By far the largest section of the algal collections consists of dried, pressed specimens on herbarium sheets.

The specimens are often labelled with essential data, such as date and place found and special habitat conditions.

Boxed algae

Examples of encrusted rocks.

Boxed collection

The box collection consists mostly of bulky calcareous algae and coralline crusts on rocks and stones. 

The collection includes the important collections of Linda Irvine and Yvonne Chamberlain, co-authors of the Seaweed flora of the British Isles volume covering the coralline algae.

Schmitz slides

Microscope slides of algae in the Schmitz collection.

Microscope slide collection

There are microscope slide collections of both marine and freshwater algae.

Two collections of particular historic importance, the Schmitz and Batters collections, are housed separately, each in their own purpose-built slide cabinets.

The Schmitz collection, containing around 7,000 slides, is important because the slides hold fragments used for the Rhodophyta part of Engler and Prantl’s ‘Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien’ (1896 and 1897). Many are also nomenclatural type specimens from other major world collections.

Liquid-preserved algae

Algae specimens in spirit liquid.

Liquid-preserved collection

The liquid-preserved collections consist of jars and tubes of freshwater and marine specimens. The preservative is mostly four per cent formaldehyde.

We do not actively add to this collection, although it does include some contemporary material as well as important historic collections.

Unincorporated material

Unincorporated collections stored in a annotated folder system.

Unincorporated material

‘Unincorporated material’ refers to specimens that have not been processed sufficiently to add them into the main herbarium collections, for example material that may be unidentified.

Some batches of duplicate specimens are also stored here. 

Some of this material will be processed and added into the main collections over time. Some will remain in this batch storage system, where it is still accessible for research.

The material is stored in folders in herbarium cabinets, with associated data giving a broad description of the folder contents.

Bound volumes

Threde's Algen der Norsoe, 1832.

Bound volumes

Approximately 80 bound volumes of algae are held in the herbarium.

These include several scientifically significant volumes containing nomenclatural type specimens as well as culturally important examples of Victorian seaweed albums.

Supporting algae collections

William Harvey's plates of Australian algae.

Supporting collections

A small number of supporting collections are also housed within the algal herbarium. 

These include:

  • a collection of original algal plates (illustrations) from significant publications
  • a large collection of academic article reprints
  • some bibliographic material associated with the specimen collectors

Find more information in the algal library collections and archives.