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Collections in the RHS Herbarium

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Standard of Delphinium David MannionThe RHS Herbarium is one of the leading horticultural herbaria in the world, and is the largest collection devoted to horticultural material in the UK.

The primary focus of the collection is to maintain and continue to acquire reference material of plants in cultivation. Reference material includes herbarium specimens, but also images in the form of drawings, paintings, prints, slides and digital photographs.

The herbarium currently has no means of storing other reference material such as spirit collections or DNA samples.

The following criteria are used for assessing whether material should be included in the Herbarium:

  • Plants in cultivation in the UK and other temperate zones
  • Material that assists with the identification of plants from RHS members’ enquiries
  • Material of international significance (nomenclatural standards but also botanical types where relevant, for example new hybrids)
  • Voucher material relating to biochemical or molecular analyses in relation to horticultural research or the conservation of cultivated plants

Sources of material

The Herbarium collection comes from a variety of sources:

A number of different collections have been donated to the Herbarium over the years. Some of the more significant collections are:

  • Hanbury Herbarium
  • BPS Herbarium
  • Steggall Herbarium
  • Harry Smith Collection
  • George Forrest
  • David McClintock
  • Ken Page

Image collection

Iris Spuria Lucky Devil

Images are used to supplement dried material. They are good for recording both the colour of the living plant and its natural habit.

Find out more about the image collection

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Visit us

If you are interested in examining our collections then you can make an appointment to visit us.

Tel. 01483 224234

Borrow material

Material can be sent on loan to other recognised herbaria for your consultation there.

Tel. 01483 224234

New plants

New plants

Well-respected plantsman, Graham Rice, uncovers all the latest new plants in his blog.

Read Graham's blog

Plant bulletins

Plant bulletins

The results of many of our major trials are now being produced in full colour bulletins. These bulletins include full descriptions of the Award of Garden Merit plants, botanical background and cultivation information.

View the full list of plant bulletins