International Diploma in Herbarium Techniques
The International Diploma in Herbarium Techniques focuses on the specialist skills of herbarium curation and management, including preparing, storing, preserving and organising plant specimens and the information associated with them.
Herbarium Techniques students learning about the practicalities of preparing herbarium specimens (Image: RBG Kew)
With their wide-ranging collections of preserved plant specimens, well-curated herbaria represent a vital resource for plant diversity research, enabling the accurate identification and classification of plant materials that underpin any other botanical studies or conservation activities. This course, designed primarily to meet the needs of herbarium technicians, covers many aspects of herbarium curation and management, including preparing, storing, preserving and organising plant specimens. It highlights the value of the data associated with herbarium specimens and focuses on collecting information, and then extracting, using and sharing it within the context of international biodiversity legislation. The course also offers a brief introduction to taxonomy and plant identification.
The course is under review during the reorganisation of Kew's herbarium collections and future dates have not yet been scheduled.
Course venue: the course is based in the Herbarium, Library, Art and Archives building at Kew
Fee: £2,900 - this is an indicative fee for planning purposes
The fee covers the cost of tuition, all course notes and organised field trips. It does not include accommodation, subsistence or transport to Kew from participants’ home countries.
Who is the course designed for?
This course provides an ideal opportunity for herbarium technicians to gain skills and experience which will enable them to develop and make use of their own herbarium. Candidates should be well motivated, have a genuine and practical interest in herbarium management and preferably be employed by a recognised institution.
Participants of any nationality are welcome. There are no restrictions of age or formal qualifications, but a reasonable standard of English is essential including a knowledge of the appropriate technical terms. It is not possible to accept more than 12 participants per course. We aim to make the selection as international as possible, with priority given to countries (or areas) not previously represented.
The course aims to give participants:
- the knowledge and skills to become a proficient herbarium technician
- the insight to select methods most appropriate to the needs of their own institutes
- an understanding of the principles of herbarium management
- an appreciation of the value of information available in a herbarium and making it accessible to a wider audience
- a wider understanding of international conservation and development policy
- an opportunity to establish international contacts in a group with similar interests and aims.
- role of taxonomy
- development, purpose and types of herbaria
- the herbarium building and specimen storage
- pests and treatments
- label design and production
- centralised accessioning, recording and dispatch procedures
- preparing specimens for mounting (including duplicate extraction)
- mounting specimens
- family arrangement of herbarium collections
- ancillary collections (spirit, carpological, seed and wood)
- collections of illustrations and photographic records
- special curation (eg succulents, palms)
- curation of fungi
- incorporating mounted specimens in the herbarium
- handling specimens and helping visitors
- repairing herbarium sheets and dealing with mixed sheets
- duplicate distributions
- processing loans
- satisfying requests for samples to be used in ancillary disciplines
- dissecting flowers and preserving the results
- rearranging the collection according to a new publication
- essential herbarium literature
- plant collecting and pressing
- collecting and preserving fungi
- collecting material for ancillary disciplines in the field
- collecting and dispatching living material
- the larger fungi
- plant morphology
- family recognition
- plant identification
- plant names
- check-list compilation
- photography of herbarium sheets
- photography of plants in the field
- collectors, itineraries, maps and gazetteers
- tropical ecology
- economic botany
- seed banking
A series of lectures, demonstrations and visits provides comprehensive coverage of herbarium techniques and management. This will be reinforced by guided and individual practical sessions when participants will have ample opportunity to learn and practise a variety of skills. Participants can also gain additional practical experience in a subject of particular relevance to their home institution.
There will be tours of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, including the Jodrell Laboratory and the Economic Botany collection, and of Wakehurst Place, including the Millennium Seed Bank. Participants will also visit the herbaria at the Natural History Museum and the University of Oxford.
All sessions are taught in English.
The course will be assessed by:
- multiple-choice examination papers
- assessment of practical and written assignments
Successful candidates will be awarded an International Diploma in Herbarium Techniques. Candidates who complete the course but do not achieve a pass standard will be awarded a certificate of attendance.
How to apply
Please complete an application form using the application guidance notes
If you are unable to print out an application form, please contact the Course Co-ordinator for an application form and further details.
International Diploma in Herbarium Techniques
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Surrey, TW9 3AB
Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5625/5634
Fax: +44 (0)20 8332 5278
Print out a course leaflet
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