What is an Herbarium?

Herbarium cabinet

On first hearing the word "herbarium," many people think of an herb garden; Not so. Think of an herbarium as a library of preserved plants. But instead of shelves upon shelves of books, there are cabinets upon cabinets of dried and labeled plant specimens pressed flat onto archival sheets. The flattened plants display the intricate details of their flowers, leaves, seeds, and other plant parts. Botanists use these morphological details, as well as information on the labels;and even DNA sequence data obtained from these specimens to determine the answers to important questions: Where did these plants come from? How are they related to one another?   What is their ecological and evolutionary significance? Like libraries, herbaria are collections of stories from all over the world, chronicling plant life on earth through space and time. They are a critical resource for biodiversity, ecological, and evolutionary research studies. The Duke Herbarium contains over 800,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, algae, lichens, and fungi. We have acquired our specimens over time primarily through research-directed field collections by Duke faculty, staff, and students, but also as gifts and through exchanges with other herbaria worldwide.

Botanical Treasures from Duke's Hidden Library

April 10, 2013-July 14, 2013

Perkins Gallery,Duke University Library, Durham, NC

Gallery is open Monday-Sunday Hours vary, please check online