24 Apr Herbaria provide a snapshot of biodiversity
Herbaria are cool and provide a snapshot of biodiversity.
Yes, we keep the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium cool and dry to protect the 100,000 pressed and dried herbarium specimens safe from harsh environmental conditions and from chewing insects. The oldest specimen belonging to our collection was collected in 1894 in Europe. The most recent collections incorporated into the collection were made in the last few months (this statement continues to be correct). Herbarium NE is a diverse assemblage of gatherings from around the world. As you would expect, herbarium NE has particular depth in representing the plant diversity of our region of northern New South Wales.
Herbarium NE serves many purposes: a reference point for identification of plants; an important resource of plant material for taxonomic, evolutionary, ecological, agronomic, phytochemical, molecular and biogeographic study; and, perhaps most surprising a storehouse (as are most herbaria) of yet undescribed species of plants. With keen eyes to spot morphological differences, a mind to think of ecological (such as vegetation community and parent rock material types) and biogeographical patterns, and very long benches to spread specimens across, it has been possible to ‘discover’ many new species from our region. The ability to borrow specimens from other herbaria around the country and the world has added greater depth to many research projects undertaken in NE and the discovery of further hidden biodiversity.