We recommend that collection holders make their own herbarium specimens for their own record, and to contribute to the RHS herbarium to be a resource for the future
Why contribute to a herbarium?
A photograph can give you a good impression of a plant, but may not show key identification characteristics. A botanical drawing can include a more detailed look at plants for identification purposes. However, to ensure that an accurate record of a plant is kept for posterity, a herbarium sheet is ideal.
These sheets are then available as a resource to researchers, historians and collection holders for generations to come. As well as being a visual reference, having a physical sample of a plant enables it's DNA to be preserved for the future.
The RHS, Kew, Natural History Museum and some universities are in possession of some of the earliest recorded specimens which are still used to this day for plant research.
Using herbaria sheets for research
Herbarium specimens digitised from hundreds of institutions around the world can be viewed by anyone here https://plants.jstor.org.
If you hold a National Plant Collection, you can get a log in from us to access the high resolution version of the images - contact us for more info.
The RHS Herbarium
The Herbarium is situated in the Hilltop Centre at RHS Wisley, this is the largest herbarium dedicated to ornamental plants in the UK. It is home to many plants collected from National Plant Collections and aims to have a specimen from every garden plant in the UK.
The Herbarium team welcome samples from collection holders. If a specimen is to be preserved, it is of utmost importance that the plant is correctly identified and collection holders are often the best placed to do so for their chosen plant group.
If you would like to contribute to the RHS herbarium, please see the link for further information,
The document linked here will provide guidance on how to make herbarium specimens.
Free workshops are also organised for Collection Holders who want to learn or improve their skills in herbarium specimen making - check the events page to see if one is happening soon. The RHS Colour chart is used and may be available for loan from your group or from central office, to ensure the colours of the specimens are recorded before they fade in the drying process.