The collections in the Herbarium at Edinburgh represent a huge number of individual collectors who have worked across the world. This selection of collectors who have sent their specimens to Edinburgh represent a broad geographical and taxonomic range, as well as different historic periods.
Further details of collectors represented at RBGE can be found in Hedge & Lamond's Index of Collectors in the Edinburgh Herbarium (HMSO, Edinburgh, 1970).
- Arnott, George Walker (1799-1868)
- Balfour, Isaac Bayley (1853-1922)
- Balfour, John Hutton (1808-1884)
- Burtt, Brian Laurence (1913 - 2008)
- Coppins, Brian J (1949 - )
- Davis, Peter (1918-1992)
- Forrest, George (coll. 1873-1932)
- Greville, Robert Kaye (1794-1866)
- Halcro Johnston, Henry (1856-1939)
- Léveillé, Augustin Abel Hector (1863-1918)
- Ludlow, Frank (1885-1972)
- Mackechnie, Robert (1902-1978)
- Mann, David George (1953 - )
- Menzies, Archibald (1754-1842)
- Middleton, David John (1963 - )
- Ratter, James
- Round, Frank Eric (1927 - )
- Roxburgh, William (1751-1815)
- Sherriff, George (1898-1967)
- Watson, Mark Francis (1963 - )
- Wight Robert (1796-1872)
Without doubt the most important 19th-century collection incorporated into the Edinburgh herbarium is that of Arnott, which forms the core of the Glasgow University herbarium. It includes both phanerogams and cryptogams (especially bryophytes) and is especially rich in material from S America, S Africa and India. Arnott obtained material from most of the important collectors of the first half of the nineteenth century, especially Robert Wight (India), John Tweedie, John Gillies and Richard Spruce (S America), Hugh Cumming (S America and Phillipines) and important, if smaller, collections from David Douglas and Charles Darwin. Throughout the 1830s Arnott worked, largely from his estate of Arlary in Kinross-shire, as an unpaid botanical workhorse for W.J. Hooker, and his collection is of especial importance in typifying names published by 'Hooker & Arnott', and 'Wight & Arnott' in the 'Botany of the Beechey Voyage', and from S America and India.
Father and son were major botanical figures in their day and both were Regius Keepers of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Hutton Balfour mainly collected in Europe and made, with his students, many botanical excursions in Scotland. Sir Isaac collected in Rodriguez and Socotra; in his Botany of Socotra, over 300 new species were described; some of the top sets of his specimens - flowering plants and cryptogams - are in E
After collecting in the 1960s in Sarawak, from then on made major collections in southern Africa often with O.M. Hilliard; introduced into cultivation many plants new to gardens. The first set of all his collections are at RBGE. Author and co-author of numerous important contributions to the taxonomy and nomenclature of a wide range of plant families, including Gesneriaceae and Zingiberaceae. Vol. 60 (3) of the Edinburgh Journal of Botany, published in 2003, was a Festschrift for his 90th birthday with contributions from numerous friends and colleagues throughout the world.
Approximately 25,000 accessed specimens in the herbarium, mostly lichens and lichenicolous fungi, but also some represented by non-lichenized ascomycetes and other fungal and plant groups. The majority are from the British Isles, but there are also many from elsewhere in Europe (esp. Sweden and Ukraine), and from Chile and Sarawak.
University lecturer and professor of taxonomy at Edinburgh University and, for decades, closely linked with RBGE and its staff. His first collections in the east Mediteranean were made before the last war. After student days in Edinburgh he made very large and fundamentally important collections, with different co-collectors, in Turkey and almost all Mediterranean countries; also collected in other parts of the world. From the mid-1950s on, all his first sets and field notebooks are at RBGE. The driving force, editor of, and major contributor to the 10 volumes of the definitive Flora of Turkey and the east Aegean islands, completed in the 23 years between 1965 and 1988.
Forrest was first sent to China in 1904 by the Regius Keeper Isaac Bayley Balfour. On this and six subsequent expeditions Forrest collected prolifically in NW Yunnan, SW Sichuan, SE Tibet and NE Upper Burma. The result was vast quantities of seed for a variety of British garden owners and firms, and specimens (30,000 numbers in multiple sets) for the RBGE herbarium, especially in the genera Rhododendron and Primula. Balfour and his successors supplemented these by acquiring specimens from other Chinese collectors notably Joseph Rock and Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti, and the enormous herbarium of Hector Léveillé. On these foundations modern collections have been added - the basis for RBGE's research on the Flora of China and monographic studies.
Main collections are listed here. Turkey: 1957 - c. 7 months collecting with Peter Davis that yielded over 6,000 numbers: top set in E, others at ANK, BM & K; itinerary in Notes R.B.G. Edinb. 22: 583-586 (1958). Afghanistan: 3 months in 1962 with Per Wendelbo - cf. Årb. Univ. Bergen, Mat.-Naturv. Ser. 18: 1-56, 19:1-28 (1963); 3 months in 1969 with Wendelbo & Lars Ekberg. Top sets split by families between E, BG, GB. Portugal: 1990s with Fátima Sales - E.
Formerly at Stromness (STS) and now on permanent loan to RBGE, c. 5,000 specimens mainly from Orkney (VC 111, and some from Fetlar (VC 112). A most methodical collection with plants such as willows being collected in mature catkin and leaf stages from the same tree, with a clear explanation, fully documented and examined by specialists.
Thanks to the generosity of the Natural History Museum, RBGE has a fine set of the collections made by Ludlow and Sherriff on a series of expeditions to Bhutan and SE Tibet between 1933 and 1949. They concentrated on the alpine flora, and on groups such as Primula and Rhododendron that would grow in Scottish gardens. The Bhutanese collections are of special importance, as, thanks to their friendship with the Wangchuk and Dorje families, Ludlow & Sherriff had unparalleled access to the country which had previously been visited botanically only by William Griffith (1838) and Roland Cooper (1914-15). As Cooper's specimens were also here, RBGE was asked to write the Flora of Bhutan. These East Himalayan collections were augmented with duplicate sets of collections made in Nepal by Adam Stainton and others from 1954 onwards, which form the focus of RBGE's current Himalayan work.
Schoolmaster. He acquired the bulk of his herbarium from EC Wallace mainly from the southern counties of England and the Scottish Highlands. Many of his specimens were new Vice County records, and at least one new record for Scotland. Nearly 4,000 specimens from his herbarium were kept at RBGE, whilst another 10,000 specimens were transferred to Kelvingrove Museum.
David Mann joined the Royal Botanic Garden from the University of Edinburgh in 1990, bringing a major collection of microscope slide preparations (frustules and stained cytological specimens) and unmounted material of freshwater and marine diatoms. This has since been augmented by material collected for the British Marine Diatom Flora project, harvested epipelon from Scottish and English lakes, and a significant set of benthic samples from Lake Baikal (Siberia). The collections document and support fundamental studies into the nature of diatom species and speciation and include vouchers for recent molecular genetic research.
Collections are of vascular plants and a small number of bryophytes from Southeast Asia. The highest number of collections are from Thailand but there are also collections from Malaysia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. Herbarium vouchers of living collections also bear numbers in his number series.
Collections deposited at the RBGE date back to 1977 and are mainly from the Middle East. They are predominantly of vascular plants but include a small number of bryophytes and lichens. The bulk of the collections are from Yemen (including the Socotra Archipelago) and Oman but there are also collections from Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Main collections at RBGE are from general collections made in rain forests in Dominica (1989, 1990) and Trinidad (1990), seasonally dry tropical forests in Bolivia (1999), Mexico (1999) and Venezuela (2000) and from a wide range of vegetation types throughout Nepal (2004, 2005, 2006). Ruprechtia (Polygonaceae) was a particular focus during the Bolivian, Mexican and Venezuelan trips. Future collections will probably be in exclusively in support of the ongoing Flora of Nepal project.
Dr James Ratter is a retired member of the staff of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and now holds the position of Research Associate. He has served 50 years at RBGE and was previously leader of the RBGE Tropical Section. Since 1967 his principal research interest has been the cerrado biome and its transition zone with the Amazonian forest. In 1976-77 he was a Visiting Professor of the University of Brasília appointed as one of the founders of its Ecology Department, and has maintained his connexion with the University ever since. In total he has made more than 50 research and teaching visits to Brazil. A list of Dr J. Ratter field collection labels are avaliable here.
Frank Round, Emeritus Professor in the University of Bristol, is an internationally renowned phycologist, specializing in the ecology and systematics of diatoms. Graduating from University of Birmingham in 1948, he carried out pioneering research into the ecology of benthic freshwater algae in the English Lake District during a PhD supervised by Dr J.W.G. Lund. For most of his career he has been based at the University of Bristol, and built a major international collection of specimens, literature and photographic images of diatoms, which were donated to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in 2006. Among his 170+ published works are two major books: The Ecology of Algae (CUP, 1981) and The Diatoms. Biology and Morphology of the Genera (CUP, 1990, with R.M. Crawford and D.G. Mann).
(see Ludlow & Sherriff)
Joined RBGE in 1991 engaged predominantly in floristic research on the higher plants of China and the Himalayan region (especially Nepal) and monographic studies on the family Umbelliferae (Apiaceae). Major collecting expeditions include Sikkim (ESIK 1992), China (KEG 1993, FED 1995, SABY1996, GLGS 2002), New Zealand (ENZAT 1998), Nepal (ENEP 2001, DNEP1 2004, DNEP3 2005).