Elspeth Haston (Assistant Curator: Digitisation)

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

Research interests


digitised herbarium specimen

I am responsible for the digitisation of herbarium specimens and related images and documents. We have been working since 2004 to digitise all our type specimens, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. More recently, I have been working to develop methodologies for more rapid, large-scale digitisation of herbarium specimens. This included a project funded by the Scottish Government during which we developed tools for rapid data entry, and using Leaf Aptus-II 10 one-shot digital backs for capturing images

We are now developing these tools further and working to improve workflows and more automated systems of image management.

Curation Systems

I have been working on developing a linear sequence of angiosperm families based on the APG classifications with David Harris, James Richardson, Peter Stevens and Mark Chase. In 2007, we published the Linear Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (LAPG) II sequence of families. 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. An updated version of the LAPG family sequence based on APG3 was published in 2009.

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.


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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