In 1954 the State Herbarium of South Australia was founded as part of Adelaide Botanic Garden. The collections reflect the history of activity by the state’s resident botanists since the first flora of the state was produced by Richard Schomburgk (1811-1891) in 1875.
The State Herbarium’s foundation collections include the personal collections of Ralph Tate (1840-1901), John McConnell Black (1855-1951) assembled in the University of Adelaide Herbarium (ADU), Sir John Burton Cleland (1878-1971) via the South Australian Museum, the moss herbarium of Professor David Catcheside (1907-1994), the collections of the Field Naturalists’ Society of South Australia and many others.
An early focus by staff and members of the public was on botanical surveys of South Australia. Collections were gifted from the Waite Agricultural Research Institute (ADW), the University of Adelaide (H.B.S. Womersley’s algal herbarium, now the AD-A series), the Department of Agriculture (ADA) and the SA Pastoral Board.
Today the term herbarium has been extended to encompass an institution that not only holds botanical collections but also employs taxonomic botanists who use these collections to study and document the regional, national and global floras.
The State Herbarium was first established within the old administration building of the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide. In 1966, a new custom-built building opened beside its original home. Later expansion of collections and staff were accommodated with two building extensions. This old site then made way for the National Wine Centre in 2000.
The State Herbarium and the Library of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium are now housed in the old Tram Barn A. The Herbarium has closer ties with wider scientific and conservation programs in South Australia and nation-wide, especially the Department for Environment and Water, The University of Adelaide and Flinders University.