More than a thousand individual collectors have contributed to the growth and development of the algal herbarium.
The Museum has acquired several significant herbaria where the former owner was not the collector (eg Shuttleworth's Herbarium). We also have collections made on expeditionary voyages.
An important point in the history of the Museum algal collection was the amalgamation in 1970 of the Museum and Kew collections. This doubled the size of the collections, dramatically increasing the number of type and historically important specimens held here.
The earliest algal specimens held in the Museum are included within the Sir Hans Sloane Herbarium. This represents part of the founding collection of the Museum with material dating from the early 1600s to the mid 1700s.
Of particular note are the collections of Adam Buddle which are incorporated here and include seaweed specimens collected from UK shores in the 1690s.
Historical specimens provide a window into the past and can provide information on environmental change and species ranges extensions or contractions over time. For example, this specimen of Bostrychia scorpioides (right), a seaweed of salt marsh habitats, was collected in 1797 from the radically altered landscape of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, which is now some 10 miles from the coast!
Recent important collections are the vouchers for field research and/or published revisions and floras (such as the Museum-supported 'Seaweeds of the British Isles' series). Collectors include JA Brodie, YM Chamberlain, WF Farnham, LM Irvine, CA Maggs, JH Price and I Tittley.