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Botanical collections

Botanical museum (LD)

Our collections date back to the end of the 16th century, but most have been collected over the past 200 years. The largest collections are vascular plants, but extensive collections also include algae, lichens, bryophytes and fungi. The total number of specimens has been calculated at approximately 2.5 million copies.

Oval shaped tubes are growing on a twig. Photo.
The fungi hazel gloves.

The herbarium houses plants from all over the world, but the Nordic collections make up about half of them. Large non-Nordic collections can be found from, for example, the Mediterranean area, South Africa, Western Australia and parts of South America.

Three historical collections are particularly valuable as they contain large amounts of type material, that is the collection that refers to a specific name:

  • The Agardh herbarium – one of the world's most important algal collections
  • The Retzius herbarium – mainly collected in the late 18th century
  • The Acharius herbarium – mainly vascular plants collected in the 18th and early 19th centuries

The pioneering collections made by Ludwig Preiss in Western Australia and Karl Theodor Hartweg in South America are invaluable mainly because of their age and because they represent the oldest collections ever preserved from these areas. They also contain large amounts of type materials. Among the largest and most valuable collections is also Paul Sinteni's personal herbarium from the 19th century with more than 100,000 collections, most of which are from Turkey and neighbouring countries.

In modern times, significant collections of vascular plants have been made in Greece within the projects Flora Hellenica and Skåne's flora. Thanks to research projects, inventories, donations and exchanges, our collections also grow annually with more than 10,000 specimens.

The work of registering our existing collections and making them searchable online is in full swing. To date, 1.1 million. copies of the collections have been registered. New collections are always registered before they are sorted into the herbarium.

Areas of use

Our collections are mainly used in taxonomic research to clarify species boundaries, relationships and which name should be used. In this work, of course, all the 11,000 type specimens we have are particularly valuable. The herbarium is also an invaluable source as a reference for species determinations in all types of inventories and flora projects.

Use of our Nordic collections

The Nordic collections are used today primarily to clarify which species have been present at a certain place at a certain time, for example, to be able to study how changes in the environment and climate have affected the flora over the past 200 years and to document newly immigrated potentially invasive species. Increasingly, the collections are also used to extract DNA and thus enable studies of species' relationships, distribution history and population genetics, or to investigate the expression, variation or change of different genes over time. The extensive collections are also an invaluable source for studies of morphological variation over time and space.

Other things that in recent years have attracted researchers to the Nordic herbarium are among other things the possibilities to obtain from the collections unique information about the phenology of species (like flowering time), chemical contents (like environmental toxins) and parasites (like micro-fungi and bile-forming insects), and how these have changed over time and space.

Use of our non-Nordic herbarium

The non-Nordic herbarium is primarily used to study and describe the morphological and genetic variation of species on a global level, to clarify relationships and species boundaries. Our large collections from the Mediterranean area, in particular, are also of plant geographical interest. The non-Nordic collections are also important as comparison material when new species found in Sweden (like alien invasive species) are to be identified.

Examples of how to use our collections

We have chosen some scientific publications as examples of how you may use our collections. The links go to external websites.

Our different herbaria

The basis of our algae collections is the very valuable Agardh Herbarium, which was amassed by Carl Adolf Agardh and his son Jacob Georg Agardh in the 19th century. It contains about 50,000 collections of algae from around the world. A large proportion of the collections have been used in the description of new species and are thus type material. The entire Agardh herbarium has been registered in a special database, which is not yet searchable online. The reason for this is that the herbarium, like the database, is very complicated to understand and interpret. The goal, however, is to make the database searchable and understandable even for outsiders.

In addition to the Agard Herbarium, there is also a general algae barium with about 52,000 collections, of which 26,000 are each from the Nordic countries and from the rest of the world. Through exchange activities, the collection has been enriched with materials from primarily Europe, Australia, Japan and North America. The type material in the general algae herbarium is gradually registered in the main database. All brown, red and charophyte green algae from the Nordic countries are registered and searchable.

Important collectors

  • Carl Adolf Agardh (1785–1859)
  • Jacob Georg Agardh (1813–1901)
  • Olof Johnsson Hasslow (1871–1952) – charophytes (Characeae)
  • David Hylmö (1883–1940)
  • Harald Kylin (1879–1949) – red algae (Rhodophyta)
  • Otto Nordstedt (1838–1924) – freshwater algae
  • Lars Gunnar Sjöstedt (1894–1975)
  • Lars Johan Wahlstedt (1836–1917) – charophytes (Characeae)

Example of how to use our algae collection

A fern leaf against a stone. Photo.
The fern black spleenwort.

The collections of vascular plants, that is ferns and seed plants, comprise about two million specimens and are divided into a Nordic and a non-Nordic herbarium, which are approximately equal in size.

The Nordic vascular plant herbarium is sorted by species and flora provinces and is very comprehensive. Virtually all species found in the Nordic countries are represented and, normally, there is also evidence for all occurrences at provincial level. Particularly well-represented are Skåne, Blekinge and Småland. Large collections have been added through the Lund Botanical Society's (in Swedish) plant exchange and its various inventory and environmental monitoring projects in for example Skåne, Blekinge and Pepparholm in Öresund and the museum and the association have worked closely together for over 150 years. Very valuable modern material from flora projects in other parts of Sweden has also been donated to the museum after experts working at the museum helped to identify the species.

Virtually all material in the Nordic collections is registered and searchable through Sweden's Virtual Herbarium (external website).

Through research trips and extensive exchange activities, the collections have been enriched with vascular plants from all over the world and the collections today cover more than 90% of all plant families and about 70% of all the world's plant genera. Thanks to taxonomic and plant geographical research conducted at Lund University and the involvement of the Lund Botanical Society, the collections from the Mediterranean area, especially Greece, are particularly extensive. Several other non-Nordic collections have been added through research at the university, like collections from Morocco, South Africa, Namibia and Kenya.

Only a small part of the non-Nordic herbarium is registered and searchable in our databases. However, almost all material from Greece and Austria is registered, as well as material from certain families and collectors and all collections added to the museum during the 2000s. The herbariums of Eric Acharius and Anders Jahan Retzius, which contain vascular plants collected during the 18th and early 19th centuries, are also fully registered. Among this material are more than 1,300 type specimens.

A review of the herbarium is underway to identify all type material and build a separate type herbarium. The types are continuously registered in our database and are then searchable through Sweden's Virtual Herbarium and Global Biodiversity Information Facility (external website). In addition, all type material is photographed or scanned to further increase availability.

Important collectors

  • Carl Hilding Blom (1888–1972) – Nordic adventitious plants
  • Rolf Dahlgren (1932–1987) – Aspalathus in South Africa
  • Thore C. E. Fries (1886–1930) – southern Africa
  • Carl Emil Gustafsson (1868–1939) – blackberries (genus Rubus)
  • Johan Oskar Hagström (1860–1922) – pondweed (genus Potamogeton)
  • Karl Theodor Hartweg (1812–1871) – Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, California
  • Otto R. Holmberg (1874–1930) – Scandinavia, Azerbajdzjan, Georgia
  • Björn Holmgren (1872–1946) – southern Sweden
  • Thomas Landström (1944–2017) – central Europe, Greece, Kenya
  • Per Lassen (f. 1942) – the Mediterranean
  • Reinhold Matsson (1870–1938) – roses (genus Rosa)
  • Svante Murbeck (1859–1946) – Bosnia, North Africa, mulleins (genus Verbascum)
  • Leopold M. Neuman (1852–1922) – Scandinavia
  • Alf Oredsson (1939–2010) – blackberries (genus Rubus)
  • Ludwig Preiss (1811–1883) – Western Australia
  • Anders Jahan Retzius (1742–1821) – Sweden
  • Hans Runemark (1927–2014) – Greece,Turkey
  • Paul Sintenis (1847–1907) – central Europa, Cypern, Grekland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Puerto Rico
  • Sven Snogerup (1929–2013) – Scandinavia, Greece
  • Richard Spruce (1817–1893) – Brasil, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
  • Åke Svensson (f. 1951) – Scandinavia, Mediterranean
  • Torbjörn Tyler (f. 1973) – Sweden
  • Henning Weimarck (1903–1980) – southern Sweden, southern Africa

Green leaf-like shapes growing with brown circles on them. Photo.
Fan lichen

The lichen collection is the next largest in the herbarium, which is due to many years of active lichen researchers at the museum. It is also due to an extensive exchange with colleagues at herbaria in various parts of the world. The first collections were made as early as the early 19th century and the number of collections today is estimated to amount to about 160,000.

The collections are divided into a Nordic and a non-Nordic herbarium with about 70,000 respective 90,000 collections. Southern Sweden is particularly well represented mainly through Ove Almborn's inventories during the 1930s and 40s. In the non-Nordic collection, a particularly rich material from southern Africa is noticeable, collected by Almborn and Kärnefelt in order to describe the lichen flora in the area.

The Nordic collections are fully registered and searchable in our database. In the non-Nordic material, the families Parmeliaceae and Teloschistaceae are registered as there is active research at the museum in these families and they are especially richly represented. The Ramalina family is also fully registered.

Nowadays, there is also a DNA collection consisting of 800 extractions with emphasis on Parmeliaceae.

Important collectors

  • Sten Ahlner (1905–1991) – Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia
  • Ove Almborn (1914–1992) – southern Sweden, Denmark, south Africa
  • Ulf Arup (f. 1959) – Sweden, Norway, North America, South America, South Korea
  • Alfred Berg (1837–1917) – Sweden, Norway
  • Olof Gotthard Blomberg (1838–1901) – Sweden, Norway
  • Stefan Ekman (f. 1965) – southern Sweden, North America
  • Herman Falk (1840–1880) – Sweden
  • Gustaf Haglund (1900–1955) – southern Sweden
  • Torsten Hasselrot (1903–1970) – middle and northern Sweden
  • Johan Hulting (1842–1929) – Sweden
  • Birger Kajanus (1882–1931) – northern Sweden, Denmark
  • Ingvar Kärnefelt (f. 1944) – Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South Georgia, North America
  • Gustav Oskar Andersson Malme (1864–1937) – Sweden, South America
  • Hans Runemark (1927–2014) – Europe, North Africa
  • Fredrik Svanlund (1832–1902) – Sweden, Denmark
  • Erik Vrang (1870–1958) – Sweden, Norway

Examples of how to use our lichen collections

Work in progress

Red stalks with green bulbs are growing in soil. Photo.
The bug moss Buxbaumia aphylla.

The bryophyte herbarium includes about 149,000 collections. The collection is divided into the Nordic countries and the rest of the world.

From the Nordic countries, there are 75,000 collections of mosses, 15,000 liverworts and some hornworts. All Nordic mosses have been registered in the main database and are thus searchable online.

The non-Nordic herbarium comprises about 47,000 mosses and 12,000 liverworts.

The collection is above all valuable from a plant geographical point of view. The type material is registered in the main database. It is probable, however, that most types are not marked and therefore remain to be identified.

Project Skåne's Mosses

In 2007, the Lund Botanical Society (external website in Swedish) started the inventory of Skåne's mosses, where Skåne is divided into 536 squares to be examined. Within the project, large amounts of material are collected for determination, approximately 5,000 collections per year, and they are stored in the moss herbarium. To date, 45,000 collections have been collected and when the project is completed, the material will be finally deposited in the museum's collections.

Important collectors

  • Stig Waldheim (1911–1976) – southern Sweden
  • Herman Persson (1893–1978) – southern Sweden
  • Sixten Bergström (1878–1949) – Dalsland
  • Sven Berggren (1837–1917) – southern Sweden, New Zealand
  • Johan Wilhelm Zetterstedt (1785–1874) – southern Sweden
  • Hjalmar Möller (1866–1941) – Sweden
  • Elsa Nyholm (1911–2002) – southern Sweden, Abisko
  • Henning Weimarck (1903–1980) – Sweden

Important active collectors

  • Tommy Nilsson – Småland
  • Torbjörn Tyler – southern Sweden

A cluster of grey fungi are growing together. Photo.
The fungus Coprinopsis echinospora,

The collection of fungi consists of about 41,000 specimens from the Nordic countries (mainly southern Sweden) and about 22,000 collections from the rest of the world.

The ongoing inventory of Skåne's macro fungi annually adds a large number of collections from about twenty collectors. The collection is also used in the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative (external website).

Work is currently underway to cure and register Arne Rydberg's donation of mushrooms from mainly Blekinge. The entire collection is estimated to comprise almost 3,000 collections. We have also just started receiving Sven-Åke Hanson's large and unique collection of fungi that will add approximately 1,000 new species to the museum. A very large proportion of the collections represent completely new species for Sweden, mainly of Ascomycetes.

All our Nordic fungi, including rust and smut fungi, are registered. This also applies to our significant collection of water molds (Oomycetes), especially the genus Peronospora in the wide sense. The water molds are not closely related to the fungi but are usually treated together with the fungi in the context of herbaria. Among the Oomycetes we find some of the most devastating plant pathogens known.

Important collectors

  • Olof Andersson (1912–1995) – macro fungi from southern Sweden
  • Arne Ryberg (1936–2018) – Blekinge
  • Harry Christoffersson (1891–1970) – rust and smut fungi (Uredinales, Ustilaginales)
  • Arne Gustavsson (1927–2013) – water molds, especially (genus Peronospora
  • Carl Hammarlund (1884–1965) – rust and smut fungi (Uredinales, Ustilaginales)
  • Ernst Ljungström (1854–1943) – rust and smut fungi (Uredinales, Ustilaginales)

Important active collectors

  • Bernt Hägg (f. 1934) – mostly Skåne
  • Sigvard Svensson (f. 1955) – mostly Skåne

The Nordic Mycological Congress

The congress is organised every two years and moves between the Nordic countries. This autumn it takes place in Skåne (Sweden) and is a co-arrangement between the Biological Museum, Puggehatten – Skånes Mykologiska Förening, Sveriges Mykologiska Förening and others.

A close-up of a moss growing on a twig. Photo.

Search in our botanical collections

You can search in our collections (LD) through Sweden's Virtual Herbarium's database.


Number of citations including our botanical collections on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility's (GBIF) website (new tab).