The National Herbarium

Our Mission

  • To lead the exploration of the diversity of our flora, by expanding and curating the collections, providing quality information, expertise and services to South Africa and the world.

The National Herbarium, situated within the Pretoria National Botanical Garden, houses the largest collection of plant specimens in southern Africa with over one million specimens.

The National Herbarium

  • Is a collection of plants which are dried, pressed, mounted on cardboard sheets, and labelled for scientific study. Important information about the plant (place and date of collecting, scientific name, collector's name, etc.) is included with the herbarium specimen
  • Is the largest herbarium in Africa and the fourth largest in the southern hemisphere
  • Boasts of a collection of more than a million plant specimens
  • Connects to a wide network of herbaria and botanical gardens in South Africa and wider
  • Is supported by research facilities and research staff
  • Maintains the largest computerised botanical database, PRECIS, in Africa
  • Houses the Mary Gunn Library, which is the largest botanical library in Africa
  • Has a specimen exchange programme with numerous institutions abroad
  • Undertakes plant collection as part of the National Plant Collection Programme, with the aim of having a plant collection which represents the flora of the country as accurately as possible

What do we do?

  • Identify and name plants
  • Collect plants to fill the gaps in distribution data of southern African plants
  • Study relationships between plants and publish taxonomic reviews
  • Name and describe new plant species
  • Produce plant information to help managers, conservationists, government and the public to make decisions
Last updated on 13 July 2015
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