People have been collecting Canadian plants for preservation for thousands of years. It can take the form of anything from a hobby for children to a full-time job for botanists and herbalists.
Many young kids, for example, have collected fallen leaves and pressed them between pages of books. From there, the hobby can grow into a love of collecting plants of all types, in pots and in gardens.
Nowhere in Canada is there a better example of professional methods of plant preservation than the National Herbarium of Canada. Its plant and fungal herbariums act as something of a library or a resource tool, rather than just as a museum where people can take a look at interesting plant life from across the world.
Collected Canadian Plants That Have Been Preserved At The National Herbarium:
- Algae: There are 26,640 algae specimens at the National Herbarium, more than 300 of which are type specimens. The collection also features a complete set of the Phycotheca Boreali-Americana exisccata.
- Lichens and fungi: The Herbarium’s lichen collection is the largest collection of Canadian lichens in the world, and was the foundation for the major resource that is The Lichens of North America. There are more than 136,170 catalogued lichen specimens, including 750 type specimens.
- Brophytes: The Broyphte Collection features more than 268,000 samples of mosses, liverworts and hornworts, including about 950 type specimens. It is particularly known for some unique historical specimens it houses.
- Vascular plants: There are more than 650,000 herbarium sheets, including about 2,500 type specimens in this collection. These species come from all over North America, but there is a strong emphasis on Canadian species and arctic botany.
- Cultural treasure: Most of the herbarium specimens in all species are grouped together, but there are about 60 small collections of specimens that have significant cultural value. For example, the Herbarium houses some of the original scrapbooks compiled by pioneering naturalist Catharnie Parr Traill.
Visitors are always welcome at the National Herbarium, especially for research in fields of botany, conservation, history, art, ecology and literature.