What is a Herbarium?

A herbarium has immense practical value and of fundamental importance to all branches of life science chiefly of plants. Any herbarium caters to professionals and amateurs from many walks of life. The collections in Herbarium essentially are duly processed plants stored, catalogued, and systematically arranged for study. A Collection like this is a vital reference when anyone needs to identify a plant and also serves to fix the identity of plant names. – where they occur, what chemicals they have in them, when they flower, what they look like. Preserved plant specimens are now used to provide samples of DNA and to validate scientific observations.

A herbarium though appearing to be a store-house, it performs vital functions like a telephone exchange:

(i) it is linked to other herbaria, and acts as the regional information centre
(ii) it embodies new knowledge from other parts of the world just as a telephone exchange accommodates all new connections
(iii) it answers scientific queries by users from virtually any walk of life. Added to the above, an active herbarium, through relevant research programmes, contributes to the progress of Taxonomic knowledge

(The Index Herbariorum, the international register of active herbaria in the world, assigns an acronym to each herbarium)


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