Elspeth Haston, Deputy Herbarium Curator

Email: Elspeth Haston
Phone: +44 (0)131 248 2816
Fax: +44 (0)131 248 2901

Research interests


digitised herbarium specimen

There is an urgent need to open up access to specimen images and data for biodiversity research. I am interested in the tools, processes and workflows for digitising herbarium specimens and related images and documents, and together with colleagues at RBGE and other institutes, we are developing methodologies for more rapid, large-scale digitisation of herbarium specimens, including the use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

Curation Systems

The curation of herbarium specimens actively aids taxonomic and other research. I worked with David Harris, James Richardson, Peter Stevens and Mark Chase to produce the Linear Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (LAPG) II sequence of families as well as the updated version based on APG3. At RBGE, I was responsible for reorganising the herbarium to follow the LAPG II family sequence as well as a more systematic arrangement of the non-angiosperm major groups. I am interested in curation and the integration of curation and digitisation in herbaria, as well as the development of tools, processes and workflows to aid with curation in herbaria.

Taxonomy and Floral Development

I carried out systematic research on the Peltophorum group (Leguminosae) based on molecular and morphological data. I have also undertaken research on floral development in the Gesneriaceae, with particular emphasis on the genera Saintpaulia and Streptocarpus.


Haston, EM. (2014). A digital future. The Botanics Magazine, 58: 4-5

Haston, EM (2014). 4th August 1914 – collections on the day that war was declared between Britain and Germany. http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/12334

Drinkwater, RE, Cubey, RN & Haston, EM, (2014). The use of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in the digitisation of herbarium specimen labels. Phytokeys 38 : 15–30.

Haston, EM (2013). Finding faster ways to enter minimal data for herbarium specimens. http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/1283

Goodwin, ZA, Lopez, GN, Stuart, N, Bridgewater, SGM, Haston, EM, Cameron, ID, Michelakis, D, Ratter, JA, Furley, PA, Kay, E, Whitefoord, C, Solomon, J, Lloyd, AJ & Harris, DJ (2013). A checklist of the vascular plants of the lowland savannas of Belize, Central America. Phytotaxa 101 (1): 1–119.

Bebber, DP, Carine, MA, Davidse, G, Harris, DJ, Haston, EM, Penn, MG, Cafferty, S, Wood, JRI & Scotland, RW (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, Pullan, M, Atkins, H & Harris, DJ (2012) Developing integrated workflows for the digitisation of herbarium specimens using a modular and scalable approach. Zookeys, (209):93-102.

Haston, EM, Cubey, R & Harris, DJ (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.

Haston, EM, Mejissa, J & Watkins C (2009). Two new species of Saintpaulia from the Uluguru Mountains, Tanzania. Curtis's Botanical Magazine, 26(3): 270-280.

Haston, E, Richardson, JE, Stevens, PF, Chase, MW & Harris, DJ (2009). The LinearAngiosperm Phylogeny Group (LAPG) III: a linear sequence of the families in APGIII. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 161(2): 128-131

Haston, E, Richardson, JE, Stevens, PF, Chase, MW & Harris, DJ (2007). A linear sequence of Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II families.. Taxon, 56 (1): 7-12. 

Haston, E & Ronse de Craene, L (2007). Inflorescence and floral development in Streptocarpus and Saintpaulia (Gesneriaceae) with particular reference to the impact of bracteole suppression. Plant Systematics & Evolution 265(1-2): 13-25.

Haston, EM, Lewis, GP & Hawkins, JA (2005). A phylogenetic reappraisal of the Peltophorum group (Caesalpinieae: Leguminosae) based on the chloroplast trnL-F, rbcL and rps16 sequence data. American Journal of Botany, 92: 1359-1371.

Haston, EM, Lewis, G & Hawkins, J (2003). A phylogenetic investigation of the Peltophorum group (Caesalpinieae: Leguminosae). In Klitgaard, B.B. & Bruneau, A. (eds) Advances in legume systematics: part 10. Higher level systematics. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 149-159.

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