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


Trees of northern Congo




Cardoso, D., Harris, D. J., Wieringa, J. J., São-Mateus, W. M., Batalha-Filho, H., Torke, B. M. & de Queiroz, L. P. (2017). A molecular-dated phylogeny and biogeography of the monotypic legume genus Haplormosia, a missing African branch of the otherwise American-Australian Brongniartieae clade. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 107, 431-442.

Sosef, M. S., et al.  (2017). Exploring the floristic diversity of tropical Africa. BMC biology, 15(1), 15.


Baden H.M.,  Särkinena T., Condea D.A., Matthews, A.C.  Vandrot H., Chicasa S,C., Pennila C.,  Bayly W.D.R., Chance R. Bridgewater S.G.M.& D.J. Harris. (2016) A botanical Inventory of forest on karstic limestone and metamorphic substrate in the Chiquibul forest, with focus on woody taxa. Edinburgh Journal of Botany 73:39-81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.10.002

Gilles Dauby G., Zaiss, R. et al. (2016) RAINBIO: a mega-database of tropical African vascular plants distributions. Phytokeys. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.@.9723

Mitchell, T. C., Williams, B. R., Wood, J. R., Harris, D. J., Scotland, R. W., & Carine, M. A. (2016). How the temperate world was colonised by bindweeds: biogeography of the Convolvuleae (Convolvulaceae). BMC evolutionary biology, 16(1), 1.

Sullivan, M. J., Talbot, J., et al. (2016). Diversity and carbon storage across the tropical forest biome. Scientific Reports, 1-31.

Mackinder, B., Harris, D.J. and Gautier, L. (2016) A reinstatement, recircumscription and revision of the genus Donella (Sapotaceae). Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 73(3):  297–339. doi: 10.1017/S0960428616000160.

Wood J.R.I., M. A. Carine M.A., Harris D.J., Wilkin P., Williams, B. & Scotland R.W. 2015. Ipomoea (Convolvulaceae) in Bolivia. Kew Bulletin 70: 1-124. doi 10.1007/S12225-015-9592-7


Wood J.R.I, Williams B.R.M., Mitchell T.C., Carine M., Harris D.J. & Scotland R.W. (2015) A foundation monograph of Convolvulus L. (Convolvulaceae). PhytoKeys 51: 1-282. doi: 10.3897/phytokeys.51.7104

Slik F., et al. (2015).An estimate of the number of tropical tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 112 (24): 7472-7477.

Ndolo Ebika S.T., Morgan D., Sanz, C. & D.J. Harris (2015) Hemi-epiphytic Ficus (Moraceae) in a Congolese forest. Plant Ecology and Evolution 148 (3): 377–386. http://dx.doi.org/10.5091/plecevo.2015.1024

Goodwin, Z. A., Harris, D. J., Filer, D., Wood, J. R. I. & R. W. Scotland. (2015) Widespread mistaken identity in tropical plant collections. Current Biology 25: 1066-1067.

Harris D.J., Bridgewater S.G.M. & Moutsamboté J.-M. (2015) Training in Tropical Plant Identification. In Watson M.F., Lyal H.C. & Pendry C.A. (eds).  Descriptive Taxonomy: The Foundation of Biodiversity Research, pp. 160-170. Cambridge University Press.

Wortley A.H. & Harris D.J. (2015) Sangha Trees: an identification and training guide to the trees of the northern Republic of Congo. In Watson M.F.,  Lyal H.C. & Pendry C.A.  (eds). Descriptive Taxonomy: The Foundation of Biodiversity Research, pp. 127-145. Cambridge University Press.

Thomas D.C., Chatrou L.W., Stull G.W., Johnson D.M., Harris D.J., Thongpairoj U-sa, Richard M.K. Saunders R.M.K. (2015) The historical origins of palaeotropical intercontinental disjunctions in the pantropical flowering plant family Annonaceae. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 17: 1–16.


Wilkie P., Poulsen A.D., Harris D.J., Forrest L.L. (2014) The collection and storage of plant material for DNA extraction: The Teabag Method. Gardens' Bulletin (Singapore) 65: 231- 234.

Williams B.R.M., Mitchell T.C., Wood J.R.I., Harris D.J., Scotland R.W., Carine M.A. (2014) Integrating DNA barcode data in a monographic study of Convolvulus L. Taxon 63: 1287-1306.

Ley A. C. & Harris D.J. (2014) Flower morphological diversity in Aframomum (Zingiberaceae) from Africa – the importance of distinct floral types with presumably specific pollinator associations, differential habitat adaptations and allopatry in speciation and species maintenance. Plant Ecology and Evolution 147: 33-48. doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2014.824

Tovar C., Breman E., Brncic T., Harris D.J., Bailey R.& Willis K.J. (2014) Influence of 1100 years of burning on the central African rainforest. Ecography 37: doi: 10.1111/ecog.00697


Peccoud J., Piatscheck F., Yockteng R., Garcia M., Sauve M., Djieto-Lordon C., Harris D.J., Wieringa J.J., Breteler F.J., Born C., McKey D., Blatrix R. (2013) Multi-locus phylogenies of the genus Barteria (Passifloraceae) portray complex patterns in the evolution of myrmecophytism. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66: 824-832.

Goodwin Z.A., Lopez G.N., Stuart N., Bridgewater S.G.M., Haston E.M., Cameron I.D., Michelakis D., Ratter J.A., Furley P.A., Kay E., Whitefoord C., Solomon J., Lloyd A.J. & Harris D.J., (2013) A checklist of the vascular plants of the lowland savannas of Belize, Central America. Phytotaxa 101 (1): 1–119. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.101.1.1

Slik F., Paoli G. et al. Consortium of authors including Harris D.J. (2013). Large trees drive forest aboveground biomass variation in moist lowland forests across the tropics. Global Ecology and Biogeography 22: 1261-1271. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/geb.12092

Lewis S.L., Sonké B. et al. Consortium of authors including Harris D.J. (2013) Above-ground biomass and structure of 260 African tropical forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society B Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0295


Hyam R., Drinkwater R.E. & Harris D.J. (2012) Stable citations for herbarium specimens on the internet: an illustration from a taxonomic revision of Duboscia (Malvaceae). Phytotaxa. 73: 17-30.

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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