Australian and New Zealand herbaria house over eight million plant, algae and fungi
specimens. Herbarium specimens are an important resource
for research on the Australasian flora and provide a permanent record of the occurrence
of a species at a particular place and time.
The AVH provides access to the collecting data associated with these specimens.
Herbaria are active research collections that are used for taxonomic,
historical and ecological research (AD 234223
Herbaria often contain separate carpological collections to house large
fruits – such as Banksia
cones, pine cones and these fruits of
– that are too bulky to be mounted on a typical herbarium sheet.
Although most plant specimens are pressed and
dried, some – such as these orchids – are preserved in alcohol in order
to retain important diagnostic characters that would be lost upon
As well as vascular plant specimens, herbaria
house collections of cryptogams, fungi and algae, such as this specimen
of the lichen Teloschistes fasciculatus
Important diagnostic features – such as the
colour and form of fungi fruit bodies – can be lost when specimens are
dried, so illustrations and photographs are often used to record these
details prior to preservation.
In addition to specimens collected within
Australia and New Zealand, many Australasian herbaria contain important collections of
plants, algae and fungi from other countries.