Mandeep Matharu

Mandeep is responsible for creating digital versions of the dried and pressed specimens that make up the cultivated plant collection. An image of each record is captured before being labelled on the central database so it can be accessed, managed and updated

What do you do?

I am responsible for creating and assuring the quality of the RHS digital herbarium specimens.
As part of the work to make the herbarium available online, I spent seven years digitising the collection by capturing digital images, using a scanner and more recently a high spec camera, of the 87,600 specimens that make up the collection. Now all of the records are captured, I am working on adding the label data to the same specimens, while also digitising each of the 1,000 new specimens we add to the collection every year.
I am the volunteer administrator and STEM Ambassador for the Horticultural Taxonomy department and support the RHS Education team in running youth volunteer programmes – providing support to school groups, work experience students and volunteers in order to promote horticultural taxonomy.

“As a child, I was always surrounded by large ashoka (Saraca asoca) trees and this made me inquisitive about nature. We also had lots of spices and condiments derived from plants in our kitchen – the taste, smell and texture of those fascinated me and made me want to know more about the natural world.”

Why is your team’s research important?

My current project is about curating and safeguarding the important dried plant collection as well as giving gardeners, students and botanists from around the world an opportunity to access high-resolution images of the collection through the RHS website.
A digital herbarium helps students researching particular plant species or genus, allows gardeners to access plant collections and provides botanists with information for plant identification. It may help us to explore and understand our historical collections.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Virtual Herbarium Project – Digitisation of the herbarium specimens

Completed projects


The RHS started digitising its herbarium collection in 2011 and eventually completed the imaging in 2018. It’s an incredible feeling to have been part of this exciting project from start to finish and I feel very proud to know that it will continue to support science research and future generations for years to come.


Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.