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What is an herbarium?

herbariumOriginally, the word herbarium referred to books about medicinal plants but around 1700, the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort used the word to describe a collection of dried plants. Linnaeus continued this usage and it came to supersede earlier terms such as hortus siccus (literally ‘dry garden’). In the early days of plant collecting, herbarium collections were often bound in volumes rather than being filed as separate sheets as is done today. Historically, herbaria were also mostly private but over time botanists started to deposit specimens into established, publically available collections. (Information from ‘The Herbarium Handbook, 3rd edition, 1999, D. Bridson and L. Forman, Editors).