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What is a Herbarium?

A collection of well documented, preserved (usually pressed and dried) plant samples equipped with the name (if available), date, geographical and collectors data, and is typically archived in natural history collections.

Why is a herbarium important?

Herbaria are essential for the study and verification of plant identification and classification, the study of geographic distributions, the standardizing of nomenclature (the system of naming plants), genetic research, and also to document "type specimens" (specimens of original naming).

The Life Sciences Herbarium

The Herbarium at UWI is one of two herbaria in Jamaica. It was founded in the late 1950's by Dr. Charles D. Adams, however, the collection ranges in age from the 1880's to present. It currently houses over 35,000 plant specimens collected in Jamaica, and as such, may be regarded as a small- to medium-sized herbarium. The other local herbarium is located at the Institute of Jamaica and it houses over 120,000 specimens.

Currently, a joint Life Sciences/IOJ project is seeking to digitize the collections of both herbaria and make the information accessible via the World Wide Web.


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