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The Fielding-Druce Herbarium

The Fielding-Druce Herbarium comprises historic herbaria (pre-1796), the Fielding Herbarium, the Druce Herbarium and collections of lichens, liverworts, mosses, ferns, algae and fungi. A detailed history of the Fielding-Druce Herbarium is presented in: H. N. Clokie (1964) An account of the Herbaria of the Department of Botany in the University of Oxford. Oxford University Press, Oxford. For a complete list of collectors in the Fielding-Druce Herbarium, arranged according to geographic location, click here.

Historic herbaria

The historic herbaria in the Fielding-Druce Herbarium are some of the oldest and most important collections in the United Kingdom. Four of the more significant historic herbaria are those of Johan Jacob Dillenius (1684-1747), Robert Morison (1620-1683), John Sibthorp (1758-1796) and William Sherard (1659-1728).

Three separate collections are attributed to Dillenius: specimens collected by Dillenius to illustrate John Ray’s Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britannicarum (1724); the specimens used to illustrate his work Hortus Elthamensis (1732); the specimens used to illustrate his work Historia Muscorum (1741). The latter collection is considered Dillenius’ most important work, containing all of the mosses and lichens known at that time, and frequently cited by Linnaeus, who visited Dillenius in 1736.

The Morisonian herbarium, comprises the collections of Robert Morison, the first Professor of Botany in the University of Oxford appointed in 1669, and consists of approximately 5,200 specimens arranged according to Morison’s planned work Plantarum Historiae Universalis Oxoniensis, using his system of classification (Sciagraphia) based primarily on fruit characteristics. 'Pars secunda' was completed during Morison’s lifetime and ‘Pars tertia’ was completed by Jacob Bobart (the Younger). 'Pars prima' was never published, but was to have included woody plants (the specimens collected to illustrate this part have been arranged according to the manuscript catalogue written by Bobart).

The Sibthorpian herbarium comprises approximately 2,500 specimens, collected by Sibthorp during his two pioneering botanical tours of the Mediterranean (1786-1787; 1794-1795). It is these collections that were used in the preparation of Flora Graeca, which contains some 600 species new 18th century science.

The Sherardian Herbarium consists of approximately 12,000 specimens of worldwide origin dating from about 1680-1796. The greater part of this collection was bequeathed to the University by William Sherard FRS (1658-1728); relatively few specimens have added since. Sherard was a correspondent of all the leading botanists of his day, including Sir Hans Sloane, and his herbarium has many contributors. One of these contributors was Mark Catesby, whose pioneering expedition to investigate the natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas, Sherard helped to finance.

Other botanical treasures in the historic collections are: the herbarium of Gregorio a Reggio (dated 1606, approx. 300 specimens) and possibly the oldest herbarium in the United Kingdom; the du Bois herbarium (fl. 1698-1724; approx. 13,000 sheets, including many American, tropical and Asiatic plants); and the Bobartian herbarium (1660-1680; approximately 2000 specimens, some of cultivated origin).

Fielding Herbarium

The Fielding Herbarium was originally amassed by Henry Borron Fielding (1805-1851), and now contains all the non-British material collected by the former Department of Botany since 1796. The collection was largely obtained through purchase of material at auctions in the early nineteenth century and as such is particularly rich in type material from all parts of the world. Fielding was in correspondence with many of the most important botanical figures of the day and had active exchange schemes.

Druce Herbarium

The Druce herbarium contains all British phanerograms that were collected later than 1796. The greatest number of specimens in the collection (approx. 200,000) came from the Herbarium of George Claridge Druce (1850-1932). This is one of the most important Herbaria of British plants in the United Kingdom.

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