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.



Type specimens





Nearly every known British and Irish native or established non-native taxon is represented.

Every native genus and almost all native species (over 99%) are represented. Most taxa are represented by a wide range of material collected across their British Isles range.

Non-native species are more unevenly collected, although archaeophytes approach native species in their 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.

Type specimens

There are probably a significant number of infraspecific taxon types that remain undocumented.

Material type

The collection is almost entirely made up of herbarium sheets, with small quantities of carpological, photographic and archival collections.

Major collections

The collection principally comprises material collected from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1940s. Collecting post-1970 has been ad hoc and limited, although recently more targeted specimen collection has taken place in the London area, Lincolnshire 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 and the Outer Hebrides. Ireland is rather poorly represented with most material coming from western Galway or close to Dublin.

Looking for a specimen?

The British and Irish Herbarium collection is being digitised

Any Questions?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch.


Chris Dixon

John Hunnex


British and Irish Herbaria, Kent & Allen (1984)

Collections on the move

Access to some collections will be affected as we prepare for the move to our new collections, science and digitisation centre.

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.