What is a Herbarium?
A herbarium is basically a library or museum of dried plant specimens. Early herbalists found that pressing plants, drying them flat and fixing them to paper was an excellent way of preserving them for study. It meant that plants were available out of season. Pressed plants if properly cared for will maintain most of their salient features for hundreds of years.
The first herbarium is attributed to Luca Ghini (1490?-1556), but by the mid 1500s the art of herbarium-making was disseminated all over Europe. The herbarium of Gherards Cibo, a pupil of Ghini, was started in 1532 and still exists today.
Originally herbarium pages were bound into a book. It was Carolus Linnaeus (1707-78), the founder of the modern system of scientific plant names, who departed from the convention of the day. He introduced the idea of mounting specimens on single sheets and storing them flat in cabinets. This became the general practice by the mid 18th century and is still the standard today.
This page was last updated on
September 19, 2007
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