A talk not only covering the collection, but also the collectors, gardeners and cataloguers plus the history behind it, and the lessons to be learned
With more than five million specimens, the herbarium of the Natural History Museum is one of the largest in the world and at its core lies its founding collection, the herbarium assembled by Hans Sloane. The ‘Sloane Herbarium’ as it is usually referred to, comprises an estimated 120,000 specimens bound into 337 Horti Sicci. It is a relatively small component of the total collection but for its time, the period spanning the late 1680s when Sloane started to collect until his death in 1753, its size, together with its geographic scope and the breadth of species that it contains, is without parallel.
More than 300 named individuals are recognised as contributors to the Sloane herbarium. Some contributed just one or a handful of specimens but others were responsible for major parts of the collection. Sloane was not alone in amassing a large collection and using it to catalogue plant diversity. He purchased or was bequeathed the collections of several other fellow collectors and cataloguers during his long life. His collection also benefitted greatly from specimens contributed by gardeners.
Overall, the herbarium contains specimens collected from more than 70 different countries and territories worldwide. Whilst almost global in scope, there are three main regions from where specimens were collected. The first is Britain and Europe, a region that is, perhaps, understandably the most comprehensively sampled. The second is the Atlantic World, comprising the west coast of Africa, the Atlantic Islands, the Caribbean and east coast of the Americas and the third is Asia.
Who were those individuals collecting plants in Britain and Europe, in the Atlantic World and in Asia? Who were the gardeners and the collectors and cataloguers who contributed plants to the Sloane Herbarium? Why were they collecting plants? How did they contribute to the collection? And what is the significance of their collections today? This talk aims to provide an overview of the Sloane herbarium and discusses what we are doing to better under-stand and raise awareness of this unique historical collection.
Mark Carine, Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum
Tickets: Donation please
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