General Herbarium

Pressed banksia leaves

Old man banksia (Banksia serrata), collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander on Captain Cook's voyage of discovery to Australasia (1769-1771).

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

Collection strengths

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).



Type specimens


Material type

  • 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

Major collections

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

Any Questions?

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


General Herbarium I
Norbert Holstein

General Herbarium II
Jacek Wajer

General Herbarium III
Jovita Yesilyurt

General Herbarium IV
Ranee Prakash

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.