National Herbarium of New South Wales

The National Herbarium of New South Wales is one of Australia’s biggest reference collections of pressed plant specimens and it is used to study the ecology, evolution and classification of plants, providing an accurate record through through time and space.

With its beginnings in 1853 when the then Director of the Gardens, Charles Moore, made a modest collection of approximately 1,800 native specimens the Herbarium continued to expand its collection and today houses over 1.2 million specimens.

Today this is one of the most significant botanical resources in the Southern Hemisphere. It includes:

  • Over 10,000 type specimens – the original specimens that are linked to names of new plant species
  • 25,000 Australian vascular plant species, including the 6,000 occurring in New South Wales, as well as a good sample of species from other parts of the world. 
  • Many specimens from Australia’s early explorers, including those collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander in 1770 on Cook’s first voyage to the Pacific. 
  • Internationally significant collections of plant specimens including algae, bryophytes, cycads and the flowering plant families Asteraceae, Casuarinaceae, Cyperaceae, Fabaceae, Lamiaceae, Myrtaceae, Orchidaceae, Poaceae and Restionaceae.

This vast collection of specimens and data is a key resource on vascular plants, algae, bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) and lichens for local and international researchers. The Herbarium’s specimens provide information for scientific research into plant relationships, and are a record of past and present plant distribution.This information is essential in making decisions about the conservation and management of our natural environment and form a continuing and vital part of our scientific heritage.


Visiting the Herbarium
Loans & Exchanges
Collecting, Preparing & Preserving Plant Specimens
Online Resources