19 June 2020 is the 200th anniversary of the death of English botanist Joseph Banks. 2020 is also the International Year of Plant Health.
Our national plant collection
There are more than a million specimens held in the collection of the Australian National Herbarium. They are a record of Australia's plant biodiversity and a resource for research.
The Australian National Herbarium exists to understand what plants exist in Australia – where they are and what they are. It is not a static collection but is vibrant and full of research that supports biodiversity discovery, biosecurity and more.
Banks specimens in the herbarium
Among our collection are 56 Australian plant specimens collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander in 1770. These specimens were originally held in the British Museum of Natural History, which is now the National History Museum in London.
Plant specimens can be stored indefinitely as long as they're preserved correctly, maintained at constant temperature and protected from insect attack. They lose some of their colour but maintain rich information, including in their DNA.
Historical specimens are important for reasons beyond their cultural and heritage value. They provide a time series for understanding change in Australia's vegetation. We can use this knowledge to help preserve biodiversity and plant health for the future.
The Australian National Herbarium is part of the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research, a joint venture between Parks Australia's Australian National Botanic Gardens and CSIRO.