Storage of Herbarium specimens - what's best?

Peter Bostock pbostock at OZEMAIL.COM.AU
Thu Jun 1 22:43:15 CDT 1995

Dear colleagues

The Queensland Herbarium (BRI) is embarking on a $A6.7 million building
program - a new herbarium building in the grounds of the Mt Coot-tha Botanic
Gardens (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia). We are currently in the planning
stage for the physical arrangement of the building. One of the most
challenging issues facing us is identifying the best physical method of
storing our specimens.

We wish to avoid the current BRI system of compactus units - too awkward,
expensive, stringent structural requirements on the building etc.

We have noted that other Australian herbaria use, for example: simple fixed
supports with lidded, opaque, fully sealed, plastic boxes (whose edges act
like runners) (NSW); metal cupboards (with slotted doors) and cardboard
folders (MEL); compactus with cardboard boxes (end-opening) (HO). We are
aware of the storage methods used by KEW and some of the European herbaria
(via Australian Botanical Liaison Officers Laurie Jessup and Gordon Guymer).

Our special requirements are:

(1) fumigation: we prefer to use gaseous fumigation (annual or six-monthly)
plus freezing of specimens before incorporation and after loans returned.
Currently methyl bromide is used on an annual basis, but likely to be phased
out soon; NSW uses camphor within their boxes, a method we
have already rejected.

(2) protection of specimens - currently paper folders.

Any suggestions, anecdotes regarding good/bad design would be appreciated.


Peter Bostock
SENIOR BOTANIST (pbostock at

Dr. Gordon Guymer

Queensland Herbarium,
Dept of Environment & Heritage,
Meiers Rd,

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