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Inter-Museum Collaboration


1.      The V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences:

         The herbarium of the V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (International Herbarium Abbreviation: LE), located in St. Petersburg, is one of the world’s largest and oldest herbaria. The herbarium currently contains over 7 million specimens, including 75,000 – 80,000 type specimens. The Institute also has a very large library, containing around 500,000 volumes books & journals. The section of the herbarium most relevant to Taiwan is the Central and East Asia Section.

2.      The Phanérogamie, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris:

         The Phanérogamie, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris (International Herbarium Abbreviation: P) is the world’s largest herbarium, with around 8 million specimens, including around 1,000 type specimens from the Asia region (mostly from Southeast Asia and Southwest China).

3.      The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew:

         The herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London (International Herbarium Abbreviation: K) is the largest herbarium in the U.K., and also one of the largest herbaria in the world, with around 7 million specimens, including 350,000 type specimens. Most of the specimens collected by the earliest European botanists to visit Taiwan – including R. Fortune, R. Oldham, A. Henry et al. – are housed at Kew. The steady increase in the size of the herbarium’s collections and limited library space has led to the decision to build a new herbarium building, which will house the Leguminosae and Compositae specimens, and part of Kew’s library collections.

4.      The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh:

         The herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (International Herbarium Abbreviation: E) has its library on the ground floor, with the specimen collections being housed on the first and second floors. In all, the herbarium has around 2 million specimens. There are several specimen collections relating to Asia, including the specimens collected by G.A.W. Arnott and G. Forrest.

5.      The Natural History Museum, London:

         The herbarium of the Natural History Museum, London (International Herbarium Abbreviation: BM) is the second largest herbarium in the U.K. The specimens were originally housed in the Museum’s Botanical Section, on the top floor on the left-hand side of the Museum’s main building in South Kensington (near central London). In all, there are around 5.2 million specimens. Besides the General Collection, the herbarium also includes specimens of significant historical value collected by George Clifford, Paul Hermann and John Clayton; Carl Linnaeus (the father of taxonomy) studied many of these specimens, and gave some of them their scientific names. In 2009, the Natural History Museum began moving its collection of specimens to the Darwin Center. 

6.      Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève:

         The herbarium of the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève in Geneva, Switzerland (International Herbarium Abbreviation: G) currently contains around 6 million specimens. The Conservatoire is the main repository for the specimens classified by the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle; the initials “DC” (“de Candolle”) are often seen in botanical names, reflecting the historical importance of de Candolle. Most of the specimens are arranged in accordance with the classification system proposed by de Candolle in his Prodomus Systematis Naturalis of 1824. When the director of this project visited the Conservatoire in Geneva in 1990, he was able to view many of the original specimens collected by de Candolle, still pressed in the original newspaper, and with identification tags bearing de Candolle’s own handwriting.

7.      Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden University Branch:

         The Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden University Branch (International Herbarium Abbreviation: L) is located on the campus of Leiden University in the Netherlands. In 1999, Leiden University joined forces with two other Dutch universities (Utrecht University and Wageningen University) to establish the Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, and the name of Leiden University’s herbarium was changed from Rijksherbarium Leiden to Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Leiden University Branch. The herbarium contains around 4 million specimens, including many specimens from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

8.      Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Zentraleinrichtung der Freien Universität Berlin:

         The Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Zentraleinrichtung der Freien Universität Berlin (International Herbarium Abbreviation: B) is located in the Dahlem district in the southern suburbs of Berlin. This is one of the oldest herbariums in the world. However, air raids during the Second World War caused the destruction of around 4 million specimens, including many type specimens of immense historical value; only around one-tenth of the collection was saved. Currently, the herbarium has around 3.5 million specimens.


Major Historical Surveys of Taiwanese Plants

undertThis history of botanical surveys of Taiwan’s plants can be divided into three periods: the latter part of the Ch’ing Dynasty (1854 – 1894), the period of Japanese colonial rule (1895 – 1945), and the period following the restoration of Chinese rule (1945 onwards). The earliest known botanical survey in Taiwan was undertaken in the Tanshui area by the British horticulturist, Mr. R. Fortune; the last survey during this period was undertaken by A. Henry. During this period a number of British, German, American and Japanese naturalists and botanists visited Taiwan to collect plant specimens, of which the largest share were British. Most of the specimens that they collected were sent back to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where plant taxonomists such as J.D. Hooker studied the specimens and published papers on them in British academic journals. The V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute also has duplicates of plant specimens collected in Taiwan by the British naturalist R. Oldham; C.J. Maximowicz, a plant taxonomist specializing in the plants of the Far East, undertook research on these specimens and published papers in Russian journals. The crowning achievements of this era were the publication by A. Henry of A List of Plants from Formosa in 1896, and the publication by F.B. Forbes and W.B. Hemsley in J. Linn. Soc., Bot. of an article entitled “An enumeration of all plants known from China proper, Formosa, Hainan, Corea, the Luchu Archipelago and the island of Hongkong”, which was later published in book form under the title Index Florae Sinensis.

Following the Japanese occupation of Taiwan in 1895, Japanese botanists began to undertake more comprehensive surveys of Taiwan’s plant life, particularly in the period from 1898 – 1899 onwards. The director of the present project discovered a collection of specimens collected by the Japanese, Mr. S. Yano in the V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute; these specimens were probably collected around 1896 – 1897. Following this discovery, a collaborative project was proposed whereby the specimens in question could be photographed, to flesh out the botanical resources available in Taiwan for the period 1854 – 1945. These specimens will be included in “Yano’s List.”

1.      A List of Plants from Formosa by A. Henry, also known as the “Henry List” (HL)

         This list includes 1,429 vascular plants. As the specimens are scattered among the collections of a number of different herbariums, the completion of this list is an ongoing project.

2.      Index Florae Sinensis by F.B. Forbes & W.B. Hemsley (abbreviation: IFS)

         This list included approximately 2,000 vascular plants found in Taiwan, around 500 more than Henry’s List. 

3.      Yano’s List by S. Yano (abbreviation: YL)

        It is intended to make a collection of photographic images of the vascular plant specimens collected in Taiwan by the Japanese S. Yano, which are currently held in the collections of the V.L. Komarov Botanical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, in St. Petersburg.

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