Collections management and curation

Herbarium specimen of Dryopteris dilatata from the UK

Herbarium specimen of Dryopteris dilatata from the UK

Specimen preservation

The Botany Department's fern collections are preserved in a range of ways:

  • most are mounted on herbarium sheets
  • some, particularly those from the 17th and early 18th centuries, are mounted in bound volumes and stored in a special collections room
  • about 1,000 specimens are fluid-preserved
  • over 300 bulky stems are stored separately
  • we also have various microscope slide collections including that of Lady Isabel Browne

Herbarium arrangement

The main fern herbarium is in two parts:

  • British collections
    These are arranged following a sequence of genera and species compiled in 1980 by Clive Jermy, and in vice-county order within each species.
Folders in the Fern Herbarium

Folders in the Fern Herbarium

  • Ferns from the rest of the world
    These are mounted on larger sheets and are arranged systematically according to A new generic sequence for the pteridophyte herbarium published in 1975 by J.A. Crabbe, A.C. Jermy & J.T. Mickel (Fern Gazette 11: 141-162). Each genus is arranged geographically, and species are curated either systematically or alphabetically.

Unincorporated specimens

Over 60,000 fern specimens are unmounted, pending incorporation, and are indexed at batch level. 

They are a valuable resource, rich in important historical material and including types as well as significant mid- to late-20th century collections. 

They can be made available for visitors and for loan and once named they can be incorporated into the main collection and any duplicates distributed.

Online collections

A small proportion of our holdings - less than 10% - are databased and are now available online.

As part of a major international project to database and image type specimens, our fern type specimens are being databased and scanned. These digital images will also be available online.