A herbarium is a collection of preserved plants, selected and categorised by species to provide a foundation and accredited resource for plant science research. No longer limited to hands-on examination of dried specimens, digital technology now enables chemistry, images and other data to be shared and distributed to a global network of botanical institutions. This synchronised world wide web of research, along with developments in DNA analysis, has revolutionised botanical study.
Over the last 20 years the Buffelskloof Herbarium has grown into the largest in Mpumalanga province, an area of immense scientific importance, and is now widely recognised as a dynamic centre of global plant research. It holds over 25,000 specimens, including 30 ‘type specimens’ – the first of its kind to be described, which defines the species’ characteristics – and 7,000 ‘voucher’ specimens, samples of sufficient specific conformity to be used as future comparative benchmarks.
The importance of the Herbarium has been recognised by Memoranda of Cooperation signed with the British and Dutch national Herbaria, with the South African Institute of Biodiversity and the University of Pretoria.
Among other services to science and education it provides plant material to world class research groups in South Africa looking for new plant based medicines and drought resistant crops.
Further information on the Functions and activities of herbarium of the Buffelskloof Herbarium is available here.