National Herbarium Netherlands (NHN)

Collections & Expertise

The National Herbarium of the Netherlands (NHN) is the decentral merger of the main university herbaria of the Netherlands, with presently branches in both Leiden and Wageningen. After the closure of the Utrecht Herbarium and its reallocation to Leiden, the Leiden University branch is specialized on Europe, South-East Asia and the Neotropics. The Wageningen University and Research Centre branch focuses on the African flora.

The mission of the (NHN) is "to generate, to make accessible, and to transfer knowledge on the nature, evolution and origin of botanical diversity."

In pursue of this mission we have realized extensive expertise in botanical We have several specialists working on the tropical floras, but also on European mycology and global phycology and bryology. Disciplines such as evo-devo, horizontal genomics, biogeography and bioinformatics are part of our standard approach of systematic research. For transfer of knowledge we offer a wide range of courses for students in different parts of their scientific career. We always welcome international (PhD-) students and scientist to visit our collections and collaborate with our scientific staff.

Department Collection highlights and staff expertise
Herbarium 4,271,000 seed plants (incl. over 30,000 types)
260,000 ferns and fern allies (incl. over 3,900 types)
480,000 mosses and liverworts (incl. over 4,000 types)
250,000 algae (incl. 6,000 types)
350,000 fungi (incl. 2,500 types)
135,000 lichens
6,000 myxomycota (slime moulds)
Special collections The herbarium houses several historical collections dating back to 1545 (En Tibi Perpetuis Ridentum Floribus Hortum).
The NHN spirit collection contains about 52,000 specimens.
The wood collection consists of 119,000 samples and we maintain a gall collection of 12,000 specimens.
Living collections The historical Hortus botanicus in Leiden (1593) is part of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands.
Library The library is one of the founding members of the EBHL (European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries group).
Our rich collection of books, periodicals, plant illustrations and reprints is indispensable for the study of the nature, evolution and origin of botanical diversity.
The collection consists of about 45,000 books, 100,000 journal volumes, 100,000 reprints, 90,000 microfiches and 40,000 plant illustrations (see below).
At the moment the library holds more than 800 journal subscriptions and exchanges.
The pictorial collection of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands includes about 40,000 icones. The valuable and historical collection (about 3,000 sheets) includes the original watercolors and drawings from the 17th century onwards.

Analytical Facilities and Services

We facilitate well-equipped laboratories for molecular, anatomical and (ancient) DNA research. Our technical staff is well trained and at your service.

Information Technology and Access

The past ten years we have been working on the electronic accessibility of our collections. For this purpose our collections have been entered in a herbarium database by using Brahms. Next to curation, our database is a powerful research tool for e.g. biodiversity assessments and preparing checklists. The database containing more than 1.000.000 records, including all the types, is available through the internet and GBIF.

Research supported by the infrastructure

Our research program is based on a comparative and integrative approach, including molecular and morphological-anatomical analyses. It is centered on the taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, and character analysis of selected groups. Our research comprises on the one hand long-term research projects in the form of Floras and Monographs (NHN also coordinates a number of traditional Flora projects, Flora Agaricina Neerlandica, Flora of Gabon, Flora of the Guianas, Flora Malesiana, and Flora van Nederland, and is closely involved in a number of related Flora projects such as the Flora of China, Flora of Thailand), and on the other hand short-term projects dealing with various phylogenetic and evolutionary topics, exploring characters on macro- and microscopic, ultrastructural and molecular level, as well as biogeographic topics. The scientific staff of the NHN Leiden branch is divided over two research groups PITA (Plants of the Indopacific and Tropical Asia) and PCNE (Phanerogams and cryptogams of the Netherlands and Europe).