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The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Plant Sciences


General information

The Department has generally not kept the research material collected by previous members. Most valuable items have been sent to the University Library Manuscripts Section for safe-keeping. Please use Janus to check material already held there.

Unfortunately, some of the collections identified as being held by the Department of Plant Sciences in the National Archives ARCHON directory can no longer be found, but they remain in the listing until we can be sure that we no longer have them.

None of the ‘archive’ type of material [for example notes, draft papers, reprints] that remains in the Department has been catalogued, although some local listings exist. Please contact us if you believe the Department holds the material you wish to consult.

Some archive material or ‘collections’ located in the Plant Sciences Department

The list below shows some of the material kept in the Department. These items may be consulted after prior permission has been granted:

  • Teaching of Botany – A few sets of lecture notes, a very few records of lecture attendance, ledgers and visitors books. These were not systematically collected. Revisions and corrections to Francis Darwin’s textbooks. Diagrams used for teaching purposes.
  • Minute books of Department clubs - Includes: Botany Club, Cambridge Ecology Club, Cambridge Mycology and Plant Pathology Club, Cambridge University Natural History Society – Botany Section, Marshall Ward Society.
  • Tea Phytologist - Correspondence and drafts of contributions to the Department’s spoof publication, which appeared irregularly 1908 – 1984.
  • Photographs - Group photographs from British Association for the Advancement of Science meetings, portraits of past Department members [by no means a complete collection]

Manuscripts and research data- Only a few items remain. Examples are:

  • WHITEHOUSE, Harold: Mosses and liverworts of Cambridgeshire
  • GODWIN, Sir Harry: Notes on Wicken Fen
  • WOODRUFFE-PEACOCK, Rev. Adrian: Notes on the rock soil flora of Lincolnshire
  • NICHOLSON, William Edward: Correspondence, notes; Diaries 1892-1939

Archive material belonging to the Herbarium

Permission must be obtained from the relevant staff before consulting Herbarium-owned material. Some examples are:

  • BUNBURY, Sir Edward H.: Notes on Herbarium.
  • MERRIFIELD, Mrs Mary Philadelphia. Correspondence, mostly to her, 1860-1885.
  • HUNNYBUN, E. W.: Correspondence related to the Cambridge British Flora.
  • BABINGTON, Charles Cardale: Notes on Rubi; Notes and correspondence related to the Cambridgeshire flora; Handwritten flora of Cambridgeshire; General correspondence.
  • BURKILL, Isaac Harrison : Notes on Herbarium; Notes on John and Thomas Martyn.


Almost all books published before 1800 that once belonged to the Department have been relocated to the University Library Rare Books section. 

The Norman Douglas Simpson Collection of Publications on the Plants of the British Isles

This is a collection of books and monographs based on the almost 3,000 volumes bequeathed by Simpson to the Herbarium in 1974. It is continually updated and now contains about 4,600 items. The aim of the Collection is to include where possible all publications dealing with the occurrence or distribution of plants in the British Isles. Monographs covering small areas are well-represented. Simpson items may not be borrowed, and permission must be sought from Herbarium staff to consult them. All Simpson books are identified on iDiscover.