Treasures of the Herbarium

The Herbarium’s collection has a focus on ornamental plants and contains dried specimens, images and paintings of garden plants past and present. Using a method only slightly different to that invented in the early 1500s, our curators create specimens that not only are beautiful but also are vital for plant naming. A dried plant specimen enables researchers to study a plant during any season and year, and these days can also be used as a source of viable DNA for molecular investigations of our garden plants.

Complementing the Library and archives holdings, our Herbarium includes collections made by horticultural heroes including E.K. Janaki Ammal, Roy Lancaster and George Forrest; plants now extinct in gardens; even a centenarian that is still alive in Wisley’s glasshouse.