Major fern collections

The Natural History Museum holds major historical fern collections as well as important cytological voucher specimens and more recent collections.

Carl Christensen herbarium specimen of Blotiella glabra from Africa

Carl Christensen herbarium specimen of Blotiella glabra from Africa

Historical collections

Our collections are unique since we hold the herbaria of:

  • Carl Christensen, the founder of modern fern taxonomy
  • John Smith, one of the greatest 19th-century pteridologists

Christensen’s herbarium is not only particularly rich in types but also extremely important for fern taxonomy as the reference for Christensen’s Index Filicum.

Major modern collections

Our fern collections also include many major 20th-century collections, especially those made by:

  • A.H.G. Alston in tropical South America and Malesia
  • Clive Jermy and Trevor Walker in Trinidad and Malesia
  • Christopher Fraser-Jenkins in the Himalayas

Cytological voucher specimens

We hold those of:

  • Irene Manton, the pioneer of fern cytology in the 1930s and 40s
  • Manton's research students, including Anne Sleep and Mary Gibby