The British and Irish herbarium
The British and Irish Herbarium is one of the most comprehensive collections of plants from a particular area anywhere in the world.
Nearly every known British and Irish native or established non-native taxon is represented.
Every native genus and almost all native species (over 99 per cent) are represented. Most taxa are represented by a wide range of material collected throughout their British Isles range.
Non-native species are more unevenly collected, although archaeophytes approach native species in degree of representation. Neophytes are generally poorly represented, particularly those of casual origin.
The herbarium is particularly rich in the apomictic genera Hieracium, Taraxacum, Rubus and Sorbus.
- There are probably a significant quantity of infraspecific taxon types that remain undocumented.
- The collection is almost entirely herbarium sheets, with lesser quantities of carpological, photographic and archival collections.
The collection principally comprises material collected from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1940s. Collecting post-1970 has been ad hoc and minimal, although recently more targeted specimen collection has taken place in the London area and the Isles of Scilly.
Important historical collections
The collection contains specimens from the late seventeenth century to the present day, with several historically significant collections including those of Samuel Dale, Sir Joseph Banks, Robert Brown, James Sowerby and John Blackstone.
- C C Babington
- J Banks
- R Brown
- S Dale
- J Blackstone
- E Forster
- J Groves
- F J Hanbury
- J Sowerby
- A J Wilmott
Country of origin
The collection comprises specimens from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. The collection is well represented by material from southern England, particularly Surrey, and parts of western Scotland, such as the Isle of Mull. Ireland is rather poorly represented with most material coming from the southwest or the counties adjacent to Dublin.
Looking for a specimen?
The British and Irish Herbarium collection is being digitised
If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch
British and Irish Herbaria, Kent & Allen (1984)
Collections on the move
We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected.
Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.
Accessing the collections
Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.
Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.
- Algae collections
- British and Irish herbarium
- Bryophyte collections
- Diatom collections