Herbarium specimen of Dryopteris dilatata from the UK
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
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
- 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.
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.
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.