Yvette Harvey

Yvette looks after the RHS Herbarium, and is responsible for the Society’s collection of over 90,000 dried, cultivated plant specimens, as well as 3,500 paintings, 35,000 photographs and collectors’ notes, and a devoted team of curators, digitisers and volunteers

What do you do?

As Keeper of the RHS Herbarium I am both a curator and a collections manager. Herbarium collections, mostly comprise two-dimensional dried plants and this ensures that any researcher – student, gardener and biologist – doesn’t have to rely on seeing a living plant in-situ to study shape and form.  
For my role I undertake a variety of different jobs including being: an ornamental plant collector (this includes plants from the RHS Gardens, Trials, Plant Heritage collections and other gardens); a plant portrait photographer; a stager of exhibits; an informer of herbarium techniques; a curator of images; an overseer of collection management policies and procedures; a researcher of the collection; a public speaker; and most importantly, the manager to our team of plant collecting and digitising curators and volunteers.

“I love that we are making, conserving and preserving gardening history – welcoming visitors to study the collection, sharing it with new audiences and seeing them have their own eureka moments of discovery.”

Why is your team’s research important?

Having our well curated herbarium collection facilitates and underpins the naming of ornamental plants for our Members advisory service and RHS gardens, and the research undertaken by our team of Horticultural Taxonomy scientists and Registrars. 
Accuracy of the name of a plant is key to any research on it.  Herbarium samples help to stabilise the naming of plants and the RHS’s collection continues to add to its Nomenclatural Standards, the specimens or images that form the definitive reference to fix the name of a cultivar.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Populating the herbarium’s online portal


As a researcher, I have published in floras, monographs, checklists and journals, presented at international conferences and contributed to many vegetation survey reports for the extractive industry. I have placed a number of taxa on the IUCN red list.

Long before I joined the RHS, my proudest moment was my first published article, which appeared in The Plantsman (now The Plant Review), an RHS publication. The piece was about Edgeworthia chrysantha, a plant that wasn’t widely available at the time and is now featured at Wisley.


  • RHS herbarium collection-based blogs on the NatSCA (Natural Sciences Collections Association):
  • Harvey Y, Swindells C, Simmons J. (2018) A lure to take the biscuit: a Stegobium paniceum pheromone trial at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Herbarium. Journal of Natural Science Collections, 5, pp13–20
  • Harvey Y, David J. (2017) Revisiting the UK’s ‘Wilson 50’ Kurume azaleas. Rhododendrons, Camellias & Magnolias 2017, Vol 68, pp126–39 (Hayward P (ed)) Royal Horticultural Society ISBN 978 1 907057 75 5
  • Onana J-M, Harvey Y (eds). (2017) Flore du Cameroun. Vol 43, Burseraceae, p93, MINRESI, Cameroon (ISSN 0071 5875)
  • Harvey Y, Tchiengué B, Cheek M. (2010) The plants of Lebialem Highlands, Cameroon: A conservation checklist. p170, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Iwarsson M, Harvey Y. (2003) Monograph of the genus Leonotis (Pers.) R. Br. Kew Bulletin, 58, pp597–645

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.