The Arnold Arboretum curates, develops, and maintains collections of dried plant specimens as the Herbarium of the Arnold Arboretum. The Herbarium consists of three distinct sections: the Herbarium of the Arnold Arboretum (A), the Cultivated Herbarium, and the Seed Herbarium. Together, these resources provide support to scientists conducting research on plants, and enable the Arboretum to document plants grown in the living collection and gathered worldwide in plant expeditions. These holdings preserve genetic information, provide data on historical flowering and fruiting times, and play a vital role in understanding evolutionary relationships among plants, their geographic distributions, and their economic uses.
Established in 1872, the Herbarium of the Arnold Arboretum (A) contains more than 1.3 million specimens, most of which are housed within the Harvard University Herbaria collections in Cambridge, MA. The Cultivated Herbarium, housed in the Arboretum’s Hunnewell Building, holds approximately 130,000 specimens, representing mainly temperate plants of cultivated origin. Some 50,000 of these specimens document extant or former accessions from the Arboretum’s living collections. The Arboretum’s Seed Herbarium, started by Propagator Al Fordham in the 1950s, contains more than 2,100 samples and is maintained at the Dana Greenhouses at the Arnold Arboretum.