What is New Zealand's Virtual Herbarium?

The New Zealand Virtual Herbarium (NZVH) is an on-line botanical information resource accessible via the internet. It provides access to a wealth of data associated with the scientific collections of plant and fungi specimens kept by New Zealand's herbaria. These data are of particular value for establishing the verified geographic distribution of plants and fungi in New Zealand.

The NZVH is a collaborative project involving 11 herbaria in New Zealand, developed under the auspices of the New Zealand National Herbarium Network, with financial assistance from TFBIS.

Specimen images: bryophyte and seed-plant; also Banks & Solander specimen.

Herbaria comprise permanent reference collections of botanical biodiversity. New Zealand herbaria house nearly 1.5 million specimens, dating from Captain Cook's first expedition in 1769-1770. These specimens are the primary source of information on the classification and distribution of New Zealand's fungi and plants, including algae, bryophytes, lycophytes, ferns, and seed plants.

Image of specimen label.

Each herbarium specimen is accompanied by information on its correct botanical name, where and when it was collected, by who, and also often ecological details. The NZVH consolidates all of these data from the participating New Zealand herbaria into a single access point, providing a nation-wide view of botanical information. A great advantage of the NZVH over other plant information systems is that it is based on scientifically verifiable herbarium specimens.

Image of map-output from NZVH.

The NZVH allows anyone to determine the geographic distribution of indigenous and introduced plants and fungi in New Zealand, as based on specimens in our herbaria.

Collection data will be added progressively to the NZVH. Databasing and verification are the responsibility of individual herbaria and are progressing at different rates as resources permit. About 650,000 specimens are currently databased, and the number is increasing all the time.