Inside the Herbarium at Kew
Engraving of Hunter House
Originally named Hunter House, this 18th century building was occupied by the King of Hanover until his death in 1851. In 1853, the Herbarium and Library were founded here. Eminent botanists, including George Bentham and W. A. Broomfield, donated their own collections to that of the Herbarium of William Hooker and, in 1877, the need for greater space led to the first wing being added. Three further wings were added between 1903 and 1968, with further expansion into the quadrangle in 1989.
There are currently over 7,000,000 specimens in the Herbarium, representing nearly ninety eight per cent of all of the genera in the world. It has the largest collection of historical plant specimens (including types), and plant specimens are found from all regions of the world.
In the Herbarium, plants are identified, named and classified, resulting in detailed studies of particular groups of plants - how they interrelate, and how they differ from each other. Carrying out surveys of vegetation in many different parts of the world is the very foundation of other plant research or conservation projects.
The Herbarium, not open to the public, attracts an average of 50 researchers from around the world every week.
Find out more:Plant classification explained