Herbariums are fascinating places. The one closest to me – the National Herbarium of New South Wales – houses over 1.43 million preserved plant specimens. The collection continues to grow as new specimens are added.
It was previously housed at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney. Now, the herbarium is being relocated to a new purpose-built facility at Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. The Mount Annan site is the home of PlantBank, where plant conservation research and storage is carried out. Take a guided tour there if you have the chance. You will see some fascinating resources.
I took an observation and drawing workshop several years ago with Sophie Munns at PlantBank, when she was artist in residence. We used a selection of PlantBank’s seed samples to creatively inspire us.
While there, I saw some samples of preserved plant specimens. As you can see, this one’s a eucalyptus.
The most exciting part of the collection’s relocation is the high-resolution digitisation of the 1.43 million specimens. Here’s an article about that, where it says that for the past three years, staff and volunteers have been going through approximately 70,000 boxes as part of the process. Wow!
On the same day I read the Guardian article, I came across this post by Nina Veteto about a day she spent as a volunteer at Western Carolina University Herbarium. What a fascinating experience.