Dr David Harris (Herbarium Curator and Deputy Director of Science)

Email: David Harris  d.harris@rbge.org.uk              

Phone: +44 (0)131 248 2862

Curatorial Responsibilities

I have overall responsibilities for the preserved specimens held in the herbarium (link) at RBGE. My main aim is to maintain the focus of the herbarium as a research collection. The way I attempt to do this is by concentrating on the relevance of the collection to RBGE biodiversity science and the wider research community. Following this path I am interested in increasing standards of physical curation; keeping up with changing requirements for herbarium specimens - such as increase in requests for material for DNA sequencing; reorganising herbaria to keep up with modern classifications (APG) and increasing access to specimens, especially through digitisation.

Research Interests

I am interested in the vascular plants of central Africa, especially from the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cameroon and the Central African Republic. I am preparing a monograph on the genus Aframomum (Zingiberaceae).

(Please email me for reprints) d.harris@rbge.org.uk


Vascular Plants of the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve


Views 27,000 since Sept 2012

Trees of northern Congo




Bebber, D.P., Carine M.A., Davidse, G., Harris, D.J., Haston, E.M.,  Penn, M.G., Cafferty, S., Wood, J.R.I. & Scotland, R.W. (2012) Big hitting collectors make massive and disproportionate contribution to the discovery of plant species. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 2269–2274. 

Haston, E., Cubey, R., & Harris, D.J. (2012) Data concepts and their relevance for data capture in large scale digitisation of biological collections. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 6.1–2: 111–119.

Harris D.J., Armstrong K.E., Walters G.M., Wilks C., Mouandza Mbembo J.-C., Niangadouma R., Wieringa J.J. &  Breteler F.J. (2012) Phytogeographical analysis and checklist of the vascular plants of Loango National Park, Gabon. Plant Ecology and Evolution 145: 242–257.

 Haston E., Cubey R., Pullan M., Atkins H. and Harris D.J. (2012) Developing integrated workflows for the digitisation of herbarium specimens using a modular and scalable approach. ZooKeys 209: 93-102.

 Laurance W.F., Useche D.C et al. Consortium of authors including Harris D.J. (2012) Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature 489: 290-294.

 Molecular Ecology Resources Primer Development Consortium, Arias M.C., Arnoux E., et al. including Harris, D.J., (2012). Permanent genetic resources added to Molecular Ecology Resources Database 1 December 2011-31 January 2012. Molecular Ecology Resources. 12: 570-572.


Harris, D.J., Moutsamboté J.-M., Kami,E., Florence, J., Bridgewater, S. & Wortley, A.H. (2011)  An introductions to the Trees from the North of the Republic of Congo.  Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 1-208.

Harris, D.J., Moutsamboté J.-M., Kami, E., Florence, J., Bridgewater,S. & Wortley, A.H. (2011) Une Introduction aux Arbres du Nord de la République du Congo. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 1-208.

Harris D.J. , Cheek M. & J.-M. Onana (2011). Zingiberaceae 232-233. In Cheek, M. Harvey & J.-M. Onana The Plants of Mefou proposed National Park, Yaoundé, Cameroon, A Conservation Checklist. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.

Hicks, J. Goodwin Z.A., Bridgewater, S.G.M., Harris, D.J. & P.A. Furley. (2011) Floristic description of the San Pastor Savanna, Belize, Central America Edinburgh Journal of Botany 68 (2): 273–296.

Medjibe, V., Hall J.S., Ashton P.M.S. & Harris D. J. (2011) Distribution of selected timber species of a Central African rainforest in relation to topography and soil heterogeneity: implications for forest management. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 30: 343-359.

Dhtchuvi, J.B., Wortley, A. H. & Harris, D.J. (2011) A new species of Aframomum (Zingiberaceae) from Central Africa. Phytotaxa 28: 31-34


Lowe, A.J., Harris, D.J. Dormontt, E. & Dawson, I.K. (2010) Testing putative African tropical forest refugia using chloroplast and nuclear DNA phylogeography. Tropical Plant Biology 3(1): 50–58.

Lachenaud, O. & Harris, D.J. (2010). Three new species of Psychotria and Chassalia (Rubiaceae) from Central Africa. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 67 (2): 219-233.

Auvray, G., Harris, D.J., Richardson, J.E., Newman, M.F. & Särkinen, T.E. (2010) Phylogeny and dating of Aframomum (Zingiberaceae) 287-305. In Barfod, A., Davis, J.I., Petersen, G. & Seberg, O. (eds). Diversity, Phylogeny, and Evolution in the Monocotyledons. Aarhus University Press, Denmark.

Goodall-Copestake W.P., Pérez-Espona S., Harris D.J. & Hollingsworth P.M. (2010) The early evolution of the mega-diverse genus Begonia (Begoniaceae) inferred from organelle DNA phylogenies. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 101: 243-250.

Bebber D.P., , Carine, M.A., , Wood, J.R.I. Wortley, A.H., Harris, D.J., Prance, G.T., Davidse, G., Paige, J., Pennington, T.D., Robson, N.K.B.  Scotland, R.W. (2010) Herbaria are a major frontier for species discovery. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 107: 22169–22171.


Brncic, T.M., Willis, K.J., Harris D.J., Telfer, W. & Bailey, R.M. (2009) Fire and climate change impacts on lowland forest composition in northern Congo during the last 2580 years from palaeoecological analyses of a seasonally flooded swamp. Holocene: 19: 79-90.

Hoot S.B., Zautke, H., Harris D.J., Crane P.R. & Neves, S.S. (2009). Phylogenetic Patterns in Menispermaceae Based on Multiple Chloroplast Sequence Data. Systematic Botany 34: 44-56.

Goodall-Copestake W.P. , Harris D.J. & Hollingsworth P.M. (2009). The origin of a mega-diverse genus: dating Begonia (Begoniaceae) using alternative datasets, calibrations and relaxed clock methods. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 159: 363–380.

 Haston E., Richardson, J.E., Stevens P.F., Chase M.W. & Harris D.J. (2009). The Linear Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (LAPG) III: a linear sequence of the families in APG III. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161, 128–131.


 Harris, D.J. & Wortley A.W. (2008). Sangha Trees. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 1-300.


Haston E., Richardson J.E., Stevens P.F., Chase M.W. & Harris D.J. (2007). A linear sequence of Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II families. Taxon 56: 7-12.

 Wortley A.H., Harris D.J. and Scotland R.W. (2007). On the Taxonomy and Phylogenetic Position of Thomandersia . Systematic Botany 32: 415-444.

 Sosef M.S.M., Harris D.J. & K.E. Armstrong (2007) Novitates Gaonenses 64. A new species of Campylospermum (Ochnaceae from coastal Gabon.  Blumea 52: 15-19.

 Särkinen T.E., Newman M.F., Maas P.J.M., Mass H., Poulsen A.D., Harris D.J., Richardson J.E., Clark A., Hollingsworth M. & Pennington R.T. (2007). Recent oceanic long-distance dispersal and divergence in the amphi-Atlantic rain forest genus Renealmia L.f.(Zingiberaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44:  968-980.

 Brncic T.M., Willis K.J., Harris D.J. & Washington R. (2007). Culture or climate? The relative influences of past processes on the composition of the lowland Congo rainforest. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 362: 229-242.


Harris D.J., Newman M.F., Hollingsworth M.L., Möller M. & Ponge A. (2006). The phylogenetic position of Aulotandra Gagnep. (Zingiberaceae).

Harris D.J. and Wortley A.H. (2006). A new species of Eriocoelum (Sapindaceae) from the Central African Republic.  Kew Bulletin 61: 277-280.

Harris D.J. & Wortley A.H. (2006). A new species of Drypetes (Putranjivaceae) from the Central African Republic. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 63: 253-256.

Mackinder B.A.& Harris D.J. (2006) A synopsis of the genus Berlinia Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 63: 161-182.

Bridegwater S.G.M, Harris D.J., Whitefoord C., Monro, A.K., Penn M.G., Sutton D.A., Sayer B., Adams B., Balick M.J., Atha D.H., Solomon J. & Holst B.K. (2006). A prelimnary checklist of the vascular plants of the Chiquibul Forest, Belize. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 63: 269-321.

Urban L., Bridegewater S.G.M. & D.J. Harris (2006). The Macal River: a floristic and phytosociological study of a threatened riverine vegetation community  in Belize. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 63: 95-118.


Wortley A.H., Rudall P.J., Harris D.J. & Scotland R.W. (2005). How much data are needed to resolve a difficult phylogeny? Case study in Lamiales. Systematic Biology 54: 697-709.


Plana V., Gascoigne A., Forrest L.L., Harris D.J. & Pennington R.T. (2004). Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene Begonia speciation in Africa.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31: 449-461.

Harris D.J., Atkins H.J. & Darbyshire, I. (2004) Zingiberaceae, in The Plants of Kupe, Mwanenguba and the Bakossi Mountains, Cameroon. Eds Cheek M., Pollard B.P., Darbyshire I., Onana J.-M. & Wild C. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.


Hall J.S., Harris D.J., Medjibe V. & Ashton P.M.S. (2003). The effects of selective logging on forest structure and tree species composition in a Central African forest: implications for management of conservation areas. Forest Ecology and Management 183: 249-264.

P.S. Thenkabail, J.S. Hall, T. Lin, P.M.S. Ashton, D.J. Harris & E.A. Enclona. (2003). Detecting floristic structure and pattern across topographical and moisture gradients in mixed species Central African forest using IKONOS and Lansat-7 ETM+ images. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 4: 255-270.


 Harris D.J. (2002). The vascular plants of the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, Central African Republic. Meise, National Botanic Garden (Belgium) 1-274.


Harris D.J. (2000). A new combination in Chrysophyllum (Sapotaceae) from Africa. Kew Bull. 55: 229-230.

Harris D.J. (2000). Validation of the name Vepris glaberrima (Rutaceae). Kew Bull. 55: 458.

Harris D.J., Poulsen A.D., Frimodt-Møller C.,  Preston J & Cronk Q.C.B. (2000). Rapid radiation in Aframomum (Zingiberaceae): evidence from nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) sequences.  Edinburgh Journal of Botany 57: 377-395.


Harris D.J. (1998). Irvingiaceae and Zingiberaceae in Cable S. & Cheek M. (eds) The Plants of Mount Cameroon: a conservation checklist, pp. 61-62, 180-181.


 Harris D.J. & Goyder D.J. (1997). A new record of Neoschumannia kamerunensis (Asclepiadaceae) from the Central African Republic.  Kew Bull. 52: 733-735.


Harris D.J. (1996). A revision of the Irvingiaceae in Africa.  Bull. Jard. Bot. Nat. Belg. 65: 143-196.


Fay J.M., Carroll, R.W., Kerbis Peterhans J.C. & Harris D.J. (1995). Leopard attack on and consumption of gorillas in the Central African Republic.  Journal of Human Evolution 29: 93-99.

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