Collection management and curation

The Natural History Museum holds both seed plant, seed and pollen collections.

Seed plant collections

The seed plant collections consist of:

  • herbarium specimens - pressed and dried plants, or parts of plants, mounted on stiff archival-quality paper with associated field data
  • cross-referenced ancillary collections - such as dried fruits and material preserved in spirit

Seed collections

The seed collection consist of two series:

  1. Approximately 10,600 packets of seeds.
  2. A collection made by R. Meinertzhagen (1878-1967) consisting of some 4,600 gatherings housed in glass-topped boxes.

Unincorporated specimens

The collections also include specimens that are unincorporated into main collections (backlogs). Built up over many years, these total around 300,000 specimens. 

Curators are currently working to improve the storage standards and accessibility of these collections.

Online collections

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


Pollen and spore collections

There is also an outstanding palynological slide collection. All major vascular plant groups are represented, with a particular focus on angiosperms and pteridophytes of Quaternary importance.

Pollen and spore collections