University of Oxford Herbaria

Sustaining plant specimens for future breakthroughs

The University of Oxford Herbaria contain more than one million plant specimens, some centuries old. Herbarium specimens are plants which have been pressed flat and attached to card. Each one meticulously labelled, the cards state when and from where it was collected.

As one of the largest and oldest collections in the UK, the contents of Oxford’s herbaria have enormous research value. The material can be used for taxonomic research and to study plant distribution patterns. This information underpins ecological and climate change research, as well as conservation management practices. Ultimately the Herbaria and their specimens can help to secure the future of biodiversity on Earth. But we need your help to make this data available to the widest possible audience of researchers.

We have an ambition to digitise the entire collection. This will help protect fragile specimens from the risks of damage when loaned to institutions around the world. We aim to establish a significant online presence so that the information will be accessible to the widest possible audience including researchers from a range of disciplines.

The estimated cost of digitising each specimen is £2 so we welcome support at all levels for this venture.

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