Herbarium Friends

The Herbarium is the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens scientific heart - a pressed and dried collection of plants collected at the Botanic Gardens and from the wild. Like a museum.

The collection allows accurate identification and recorded location of plant species. This can help record plants that may be rare or threatened and is a valuable tool that will grow in size over time. Our aim is that a collected specimen of every plant in the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens is kept at the Botanic Gardens Herbarium and also at the Queensland Herbarium in Brisbane.

These specimens are preserved usually by pressing, drying and mounting. Sometimes they are preserved in spirits. Specimens are labelled and systematically arranged. They are the basis of many divergent scientific studies including the identification, classification and the naming of plants (taxonomy) - but there's so much more than this! Provided they are properly stored, specimens can be kept indefinitely. Specimens collected centuries ago are still studied for various reasons.

Who are the present-day collectors?

Botanists - professional and amateur - ecologists all collect specimens. Renown early collectors include Dampier, Banks & Solander, Bentham, Brown (Percy & Northumberland Is.), Cunningham (Percy Isles) , Flinders (Percy Isles), Mueller, Amalie Dietrich - (a resourceful German woman, Ac. deit. Type L.Elp.c.1866).

Queensland's Herbarium at Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane (BRI) is the centre for botanical research and information on Queensland plants and plant communities. This Herbarium houses a world-class collection of over 670,000 specimens of flowering and non-flowering, mainly Queensland plants.

What is the purpose of a Botanic Gardens Herbarium?

The principal role of a Herbarium is to house voucher specimens for the living collection. Vouchers are something that proves the truth of a claim of what a particular plant actually is. These are usually duplicates (kept on site) of vouchers that are lodged with a state or national herbarium. This also allows data retrieval to be requested that will show any name changes. Voucher specimens should be collected at the same time and from the same plants from which the propagating material is collected. Our Herbarium will become a valuable asset that provides additional information on plants that are in/or have been in the living collection.

Herbarium operations

Each month, the Herbarium Friends volunteers – operated by the Society for Growing Australian Plants, Mackay Branch (SGAP Mackay) under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, meet  to collect, press and process voucher and duplicate specimens from the Botanic Gardens living collection. Voucher specimens and their documentation are sent to the Queensland Herbarium for incorporation into their collection,  thus becoming a permanent record of species  that have been planted in the Gardens. The duplicate specimens are mounted, labelled and retained in the Gardens Herbarium for  reference purposes.  Opportunities to visit natural areas for collection and recording are planned for future dates.

Currently – the Herbarium Friends group is not taking on new participants. However, if you believe that you may be interested in future - and have patience and an eye for collecting, pressing, drying and mounting flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds to a standard, then please contact the Botanic Gardens via email: botanic@mackay.qld.gov.au