The British and Irish herbarium

Dactylorhiza fuchsii - Swain's Wood

Dactylorhiza fuchsii in Swain's Wood

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.

Major 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.


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


John Hunnex

Fred Rumsey

Any questions?

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. 

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Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.