UNC Herbarium

NOTE: The UNC Herbarium also has its own website:

On June 18, 2000, the Southeast's premier herbarium, the UNC Chapel Hill Herbarium, officially became a part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden. The facility, used by students, botanists, taxonomists and other professionals from across the Southeast and the nation, currently contains over 800,000 specimens. Though some specimens in the collection date back to 1835, it was actually founded in 1908, residing in Davie Hall from that year until 1957 and then moving to Coker Hall. In 1998, the Herbarium celebrated its 90th birthday with a gala in the banquet hall of UNC's Morehead Planetarium.

Architectural plans are being formulated for a facility to house the Herbarium on Botanical Garden grounds next to the Education Center.

UNC Herbarium seal

What is an herbarium?

An herbarium is a museum collection of plant specimens and associated label and research data. Herbaria are the fundamental documentation of plant diversity.

The herbarium specimen is the unit of botanical knowledge. The herbarium is the only authentic source of identification of plants and their present and past distribution. It helps us understand the changing landscape. It is the court of last resort for plant identification and distribution, including:

  • New weeds and their spread.
  • Plants poisonous to people, livestock and pets.
  • Hay fever plants.
  • Blooming and fruiting times.
  • Medicinal plants and North Carolina as a resource for these plants.
  • The historical distribution of endangered plants.
  • Wildflowers and trees.
  • Plants of state parks; national parks, seashores and riverways; wildlife refuges.

Such information is crucial to those interested in planning North Carolina's future as our state and region continue their fast-paced development.

Facts about the UNC Herbarium?

The UNC Herbarium, founded in 1908 by Dr. William Chambers Coker . . .

  • Includes more than 750,000 labeled museum specimens of plants, algae, fungi and fossils
  • Spearheads the identification, distribution and history of plants in our diverse State
  • Is the largest collection in the Southeast
  • Was designated one of 25 National Resource Centers and one of 105 National Resource Collections by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Was ranked third among university collections by NSF
  • Has supported publication of 24 major works and hundreds of research papers
  • Holds over 150 years of botanical observation and the work of hundreds of collectors and botanists are documented in the Herbarium
  • Is a rich archive of field notebooks, maps, photographs and illustrations
  • Serves all 16 campuses of UNC and a wide array of other institutions and users
  • Has supported the education of hundreds of students, both at UNC and elsewhere

Today, this wealth of information is available, not only in the collection but through the UNC Herbarium website, where specimens may be inspected by students, educators, scientists from around the world, government agency representatives, and the general public.

Updated on February 03, 2014 at 01:24:37 pm.