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Department of Plant Sciences

Herbarium entry, one side has a large painting of a yellow flower. The other samples of the flower heads.

The Herbarium has been officially awarded Designated status by the Arts Council England


This award recognises the Herbarium's natural history collections as being of great historical and scientific importance for the country.
Established in 1761 it holds an estimated 1.1 million plant specimens from all over the world, making it one of the largest collections of pressed and dried plant specimens in the UK. An estimated 50,000 of these are ‘type’ specimens – the specimens selected as the original reference to define a species of plant.
The collection includes almost 1,000 specimens collected by Charles Darwin on the Voyage of the HMS Beagle – perhaps the most famous scientific expedition in history. Darwin’s specimens, along with others in the collection including those of Darwin’s mentor, John Stevens Henslow, were key to the development of the theory of evolution by natural selection.
Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme recognises the pre-eminent collections of national importance held in England’s non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance. Cambridge University Herbarium’s award demonstrates that its holdings are some of the finest and most significant in the country, and recognises that the University of Cambridge is committed to the continued safeguarding and use of this remarkable collection for the benefit of generations to come.
Image Credit: Cambridge University Herbarium