The State Herbarium of South Australia is the key centre for knowledge and information on South Australia’s native and naturalised plants, algae, fungi and lichens. We are internationally recognised for our research and advisory role in plant systematics.
At the core of the State Herbarium’s operations is our collection of dried herbarium specimens, currently numbering over one million and growing.
Our research staff and associates bring scientific methods, including cutting-edge technologies in molecular biology and microscopy, to help research a wide range of botanical areas (e.g. genes, populations, species, higher taxa, communities and ecosystems).
The information that we gather is not just stored. Research results and statewide knowledge are shared in publications such as the Flora of South Australia, Census of South Australian Vascular Plants and the Marine Benthic Flora of Southern Australia.
We participate in major national projects such as the iconic Flora of Australia and world-leading Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (AVH). We are also an essential resource for carrying out flora surveys, vegetation mapping programs, native vegetation conservation, weed identification, and community management and rehabilitation programs.
The State Herbarium’s knowledge and information also contributes to the conservation of rare plants. We believe that action to save rare plant species faced with extinction needs to be based on good scientific knowledge. Our improved communication of distributional and taxonomic data is enhancing recovery plans and on-ground actions in the effort of conservation of these rare plants.
Our knowledge of the species of plants, algae and fungi - which is crucial in today’s conservation biology, environmental management, the design of natural reserves and informed decision making for South Australia and any governmental agency - continues to increase, and research shows that new species continue to be discovered.
We report through the Chief Botanist to the Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium, which is responsible for the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium Act 1978. According to the Act, the roles of the Board in relation to the State Herbarium include to:
- establish and maintain a herbarium and, subject to this Act, retain original specimens included in the herbarium
- accumulate and care for specimens (whether living or preserved), objects and things of interest in the fields of botany, horticulture, biology, conservation of the natural environment or history
- accumulate and classify data in regard to any such matters
- carry out or promote research into matters of interest in the fields of botany, horticulture, biology, conservation of the natural environment or history
- disseminate information of interest in the fields of botany, horticulture, biology, conservation of the natural environment or history
- undertake commercial exploitation of knowledge acquired by the Board in the course of conducting research
- provide consultant services
- perform any other functions of scientific, educational or historical significance that may be assigned to the Board by Regulation.