EBTS UK is hoping to raise funds to sponsor the purchase of the 5 archive boxes needed to store the RHS’s current and future collection of boxwood samples. The Buxus specimen sheets will be housed in new heritage archival boxes, lined with acid-free paper, which will ensure they are stored in the best conditions possible. The boxes will be stored in the new herbarium being built as part of the National Centre for Horticultural Science and Learning at RHS Wisley, due for completion in 2020. The new building will be able to accommodate up to 400,000 plant specimens representing the whole of the UK garden flora.
Whilst members could sponsor a box themselves, at £300 each, not everyone will have that much money available. However, if we all gave a little bit, we can raise the £1,500 needed to sponsor all five of the light blue archival boxes needed for the the Buxus collection. By raising the money together, with smaller more affordable amounts, the Society will then be recognised with its name engraved in the wooden wall cladding of the new RHS herbarium in the visitors area of the National Centre for Horticultural Science & Learning.
EBTS UK will be matching, pound for pound, members donations until the target amount is reached.
The RHS Wisley herbarium holds over 86,000 dried specimens and is one of only a few in the world that specialise in cultivated plants. The oldest specimen in the herbarium is a lavender (Lavandula x intermedia) collected in 1731. This was donated by Rev George Henslow, RHS Professor of Botany between 1880 and 1918, along with the rest of his herbarium. It’s part of the largest herbarium of its kind in the UK having been started around 1917, the original collection having been auctioned off in 1856 to help relieve the Society’s debts.
What is a herbarium?
A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens, which are used for scientific study. Most specimens in a herbarium are pressed, dried plants. These pressed specimens are mounted on sheets of card and stored in flat folders in banks of cupboards following a logical sequence for easy referral.
This sequence can either be arranged alphabetically, like an index, or by similarity, placing those plants that are most closely related beside each other.
Other specimens may be dried large fruiting bodies, pieces of wood or bark, seeds or material stored in spirit to preserve more delicate three-dimensional structures. A herbarium also keeps document records about the specimens – where, when and by whom they were collected.
Herbaria are used by botanists for the identification and classification of plants. They preserve most of the important features of a plant, allowing botanists to carry out research on the plants without needing to see a living specimen. As the plant is usually preserved when flowering or fruiting, the botanists can examine the most important features irrespective of the time of the year.
They also provide a historical record of what was growing in a particular place at a particular time. Many historic collections in herbaria now record plants long since lost from the locality from which they were collected. For cultivated plants, these records will give a latest date for when a particular plant was first grown.
Royal Horticultural Society