The Museum's two million General Herbarium specimens represent a unique global resource for studying global seed plant diversity.
The collections in the General Herbarium are from all over the world except Britain and Ireland; these are found in the British and Irish Herbarium.
Pre-Linnean collections are also curated separately, in the Historical Collections.
The Museum holds major seed plant collections from all over the world and an estimated 110,000 nomenclaturally important type specimens. The botanical collections of the Museum are especially rich in historical material.
The General Herbarium is managed in four sections (General Herbarium I-IV) with each section managed by a curator.
- General Herbarium I: Gymnosperms, 'basal' angiosperms, the monocotyledons, and non-core eudicotyledons.
- General Herbarium II: Fabids.
- General Herbarium III: Malvids and the superasterids, except for lamiids and campanulids
- General Herbarium IV: Lamiids and campanulids.
For details of the families curated by each section, please see the Classification and Arrangement of the General Herbarium at the Museum cladogram (PDF, 1.41MB).
- Mainly pressed plants mounted on herbarium sheets
- Boxed 'carpological' material at the end of each order in the main collection
- A separate historical collection of seeds
- Spirit material
- Separate oversized material
- Microscopical slides
The botanical collections of the Museum are rich in historical material.
The General Herbarium includes specimens made on voyages such as those of James Cook, HMS Beagle, HMS Challenger, and Parry.
Areas of origin
The collection covers a broad geographical range with collections from:
- Central America
- The West Indies
- The Himalayas
- Europe and the Mediterranean
Looking for a specimen?
Parts of the botany collection are being digitised
If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch with the curator for the appropriate section.
Contact the curators
General Herbarium I
Norbert Holstein, email
General Herbarium II
Jacek Wajer, email
General Herbarium III
Jovita Yesilyurt, email
General Herbarium IV
Ranee Prakash, email
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 collections