The Museum houses one of the most important collection of ferns and other seed-free vascular plants in the world, with around 280,000 specimens.
The collections cover global fern diversity and have particular geographical strengths in:
- Europe and the British Isles
- South Asia
- Tropical America
The collections span the seventeenth century to the present day. They are especially valuable due to their richness in types, historical collections and cytological vouchers.
Our fern type specimens are estimated to exceed 7,000, representing around 20 per cent of published fern names.
- Extant ferns 255,000
- Lycophytes 25,000
- Extant ferns 6,600
- Lycophytes 400
- Herbarium sheets 275,000
- Spirit collection 1,000
- Microscope preparations 400
- Unicorporated collections 60,000
- Carl Christensen's Herbarium
- John Smith's Herbarium
- A.H.G. Alston
- Clive Jermy
- Trevor Walker
- Christopher Fraser-Jenkins
- Irene Manton
- Irene Manton's research students, including Anne Sleep and Mary Gibby
Looking for a specimen?
The fern collection is being digitised
If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch
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.
- Fern collections
- Historical collections
- Lichen collections
- General Herbarium