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Visiting the State Herbarium

A public-access facility, the Eric Jackson Reference Herbarium, is available to those with at least some skills in plant identification to identify their own specimens themselves. It houses a specimen of most South Australian vascular plant and a library of books and a microscope to assist. A series of pictorial fact sheets of marine algae is also well advanced. Please contact the State Herbarium in advance to ensure you will have best use of the facility.

Bona fide researchers from Australian and overseas institutions are welcome to access the collections. Please contact the State Herbarium in advance with details of your visit and your plant groups of interest.

The Botanic Gardens of Adelaide and State Herbarium Library is a key repository of literature on botanical classifications and horticulture in South Australia. It is specialist in subject area and diverse in resources and principally serves the research work of Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium staff, local, national and international botanists and horticulturists, and, by appointment, members of the public. Material ranges from 16th century printed works to modern electronic information. Please contact the library before planning a visit.

Exchange of herbarium specimens

Extra specimens (duplicates) of a collection deposited in the State Herbarium are sent to other herbaria in Australia and all over the world. In exchange we receive duplicate specimens from other herbaria.

This global exchange and reciprocal loan of specimens is crucial. We can compare our specimens with those from elsewhere in Australia or from other countries. We need to know that the name we use for a plant here is the same as that used interstate or overseas. This is particularly important for accurately identifying newly established plants (including the development of Weed Alert giving early warning of potentially invasive species to land and environmental managers) and understanding the variation of invasive species. The Australian Commonwealth, states and territories are particularly vigilant, with increased emphasis on biosecurity strategies and quarantine regulations.

Loans of specimens - underpinning taxonomic research

Botanists carrying out research into plant groups are loaned specimens from herbaria in other states of Australia and overseas. Workers all over the world also borrow our specimens.

The loan of specimens is critical to ensuring the consistent application of taxonomic concepts (plant identity) across the globe, for they form the basis of scientific descriptions and often provide much more information than illustrations or photographic images. Special specimens called types are particularly important to researchers, for each scientific name of a plant (or any organism) is attached to one or more type specimens.

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