The 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 RHS 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 RHS 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 RHS Herbarium collection comes from a variety of sources:
  • Nurseries and breeders
  • Plant Heritage (NCCPG) National Plant Collections
  • RHS Plant Trials
  • RHS Flower Shows
  • RHS International Cultivar Registration Authorities (ICRAs)
  • RHS Gardens
  • Other UK gardens
  • RHS members
  • Wild or naturalised plants in the UK
  • Cultivated plants elsewhere in the world

A number of different collections have been donated to the RHS 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

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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