The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Herbarium includes over 300,000 specimens of preserved plants. The collection is worldwide in scope, with concentration on plants of the greater New York area and cultivated plants.
The original collection was formed by uniting the herbaria of the Brooklyn Lyceum, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and the Long Island (NY) Historical Society. Among these collections are specimens collected by J. Torrey, W. Darlington, A. Gray, and C. S. Rafinesque.
The herbarium also incorporates a number of historically important collections including:
- The personal herbarium of A.A. Heller, rich in types from the western United States.
- The personal herbarium of Camillo Schneider, which formed the basis for his monograph on woody cultivated plants, Handbuch der Laubholzkunde.
- A rare bound set of Australian algae and useful sets from the Whitney South Seas expedition and the Mulford expedition.
The collection is housed in a new facility, designed to incorporate the best ideas in collection conservation. With support from the Institute of Museum Services, William Lull, an environmental conservator, identified critical design features for the new herbarium and provided specifications for the climate control system. Architect Bernard Rothzeid designed the facility to meet two goals: providing a safe, clean and stable environment for the Garden's collections and comfortable and efficient workspaces for staff.
The Herbarium collection forms the basis for the Garden's two major research projects: a detailed survey of the local flora whose goal is to document the effects of urbanization on the vegetation of the New York metropolitan region, and a study of the systematics and taxonomy of cultivated plants.
Contact the curator:Kerry Barringer
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden Herbarium houses over 300,000 specimens of preserved plants. These collections are not only valuable resources for researchers—they often have a story behind them as well. Whether brought back by a trailblazing expedition, cataloged by a pioneering scientist, or assembled by ordinary individuals with a love of nature, the Herbarium collections are tangible testimony to the human quest for knowledge.
The original collection was formed in 1914 by combining the herbaria of the Brooklyn Lyceum, the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, and the Long Island (NY) Historical Society. The herbarium also incorporates a number of historically important collections including the following:
The Mulford Expedition to Bolivia
Collections made by O.E. White, M. Cardenas, and H.H. Rusby during the Mulford Expedition to Bolivia in 1928. The collection includes many isotypes of the species Rusby described from the expedition.
North American Graminae and Cyperaceae by Asa Gray
A bound set of North Americn grasses and sedges distributed by Asa Gray in 1834 and 1835 and a few loose specimens from another set
The Personal Herbarium of A.A. Heller 1896–1913
A set of Heller's collections from the western United States including types for most of the species he described in the journals Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club and Muhlenbergia
The Astor Expedition to the Galapagos Islands
Types and other collections made by H.K. Svenson during his trip in 1930
The Whitney South Seas Expedition
A set of the collections made by Jones, Beck, and others during the Whitney Expedition to the South Pacific in 1922
The Rocky Mountain Expedition of 1862 by C.C. Parry, E. Hall and J.P. Harbour
Collections made in 1862, including isotypes of species described by A. Gray
The Personal Herbarium of Camillo Schneider, 1915-1919
A collection of 6,000 cultivated plant specimens, mostly from the Arnold Arboretum
Mauritius Ferns of Nicolas Pike
Collections made by Pike while he was the U.S. Consul to Mauritius (1866–1876).
Musci boreali-americana by Sullivant and Lesquereux
A complete set, unbound, of both editions
Musci Appalachiani and Hepaticae boreali-americanae exsiccatae by C.F. Austin
Complete, unbound collections of these early works on mosses and liverworts
John Macoun's Canadian Mosses
Mosses collected by Macoun on his journeys across Canada, including isotypes for many of the moss species described by N.C. Kinderberg in 1892
Phytotheca boreali-americana by Collins, Holden, and Setchell
A complete, bound copy
Algae and Corallines of New York Bay by C.F. Durant
A complete bound set, published by G.P. Putnam, 1850
Algal Herbarium of John Hooper
Originally part of the Long Island Historical Society collection, which formed the basis for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden collection
American Algae by Josephine Tilden
One of 25 complete sets
Algales by W.H. Harvey
A bound collection of algae, sent as a gift from the great British algologist, William Harvey, to his friend, Col. Nicolas Pike, subtitled "Seaweeds mostly collected between Ballycastle and Fairhead on the northern coast of Ireland." Bound with a pencil sketch of the locality.
Brooklyn Academy of Arts and Sciences Collection
Collections of Rev. George Hulst and Rev. Stephen Calverley, 19th-century Brooklyn naturalists who helped found the academy
The Garden also houses interesting smaller collections by W. Suksdorf (Washington State 1894–1903), C.G. Pringle (Mexico 1889–1897), E.J. Wright (Eclipse Expedition, 1889), J. Torrey (Hoboken, New Jersey 1818; Orange Co., New York 1836), and W. Darlington. There are also a few specimens from the Darlington herbarium reputed to be collected by Rafinesque.
Herbarium Collections Loans Policy
Brooklyn Botanic Garden will loan its scientific collections to herbaria recognized in Index Herbariorum.
The standard loan period will be for one (1) year and may be extended upon written request to the Curator.
Loans to North American herbaria will be shipped at Book Rate, uninsured, unless special arrangements are made with the institution receiving the loan. Other shipments will be sent by air.
Only under special circumstances will specimens be loaned to individuals or institutions not listed in the Index. Arrangements must be made with the Curator before special loans will be sent. The loan period for special loans will be no more than six (6) months, and no extensions are allowed.
At the discretion of the Curator, loans may be denied for the following reasons:
- The institution or individual has shown disregard for the proper care of the specimens.
- The specimens are the subject of research by a member of the Garden staff at the time of the request.
- The shipment and handling may damage the specimen irreparably.
Rules on the Use of Herbarium Specimens
- Loans are made to institutions. The institution receiving the loan is responsible for the proper storage and handling of the loaned specimens according to these regulations. If the institution cannot comply with the regulations the loan must be returned. Acceptance of the loan indicates acceptance of these regulations.
- Loans are for one year. Extensions are granted upon written request to the Curator of the Herbarium. Brooklyn Botanic Garden reserves the right to request the return of the loan at any time. Loans may be transferred only with written permission.
- Specimens must be stored in sealed cases and kept free of insect and fungus infestation. Specimens may be frozen for pest control. No other method of pest control may be used without permission of the Curator of the Herbarium.
- Specimens must be handled with extreme care. Do not bend, fold, or drop the specimens. Do not crowd them into cases or slide the specimens over one another. Plant fragments must be placed in the packet on the sheet.
- All specimens studied must be legibly annotated before they are returned. Annotations should indicate the correct scientific name and author, the name of the investigator, and the date. Please include the full reference when annotating types. Annotate each element of a mixed collection. Use permanent ink and acid-free paper; glue with a pH neutral adhesive. Do not alter the original label or existing annotations.
- Specimen fragments may be removed from some collections only if they can be placed in packets on the sheet after study. This includes all glass slides. Do not remove fragments from taxa represented by fewer than five (5) sheets. Special permission from the Curator of the Herbarium is needed before removing fragments from type specimens or special collections. Permission is also needed before removing fragments that will not be returned to the sheet.
- A copy of all photographs taken of the specimens or of fragments should be returned with the loan. The label data from the specimen, name of the photographer, and location of negatives must accompany the photograph.
- All Brooklyn Botanic Garden specimens should be cited with the acronym "BKL" in publications. A reprint of any publication based on specimens from Brooklyn Botanic Garden should be sent to the Garden.
Contact the curator:Kerry Barringer