Te Papa’s herbarium contains some 270 000 dried plant specimens. It is the third biggest such collection in the country, behind Landcare Research (600 000) and the Auckland Museum (315 000).
Te Papa’s herbarium has a wealth of historical collections. It was founded in 1865 and has more type specimens of New Zealand plants than any other institution in the country. It has especially rich collections of bryophytes, ferns, lichens, and marine algae.
The plant groups covered are marine macro-algae (seaweeds), lichens, liverworts, mosses, lycophytes, ferns, and seed plants (but not fungi). The focus is on plants that are native or introduced to New Zealand. Ancillary collections include fossils, wood samples, botanical art, images of New Zealand types held overseas, curiosities, and extensive New Zealand botanical literature.
The collection is regularly consulted by researchers studying New Zealand’s botanical biodiversity. Together with similar collections around the country, it underpins knowledge of what plant species occur where in New Zealand and how that has changed over time.
All New Zealand specimens of native and naturalised species are databased, except for about half of the flowering plants. Collection data can be accessed through the New Zealand Virtual Herbarium. Images of most type specimens are available via Te Papa’s Collections Online webpage; for example, holotypes can be found here.
The international herbarium code for Te Papa’s herbarium is WELT.
New Zealand Herbarium National Network webpages.