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Preserving the Past for the Future
Since the 1950s, we’ve been committed to striking a balance between our past and our future. As part of this effort we rely heavily on our Herbarium. In this climate controlled environment, specimens from select plants, trees and shrubs on Longwood’s property are lovingly preserved for future reference.
All specimens are pressed, dried, mounted and catalogued in our electronic database with a complete description. This vouchering process provides us with a physical record of the species – both living and dead – that comprise our collection.
There are over 14,000 specimens in our Herbarium, which are used by our instructors in their classes and by researchers at Longwood and around the world. Several hundred specimens are added each year. All the specimens are photographed and digital copies can be seen in Plant Explorer.
Longwood’s Herbarium Collection
Space constraints and time make it difficult to sample and preserve all of our more than 9,500 taxa, so special emphasis is placed on species that have historical significance, were developed or discovered by Longwood, or are extinct in the wild. Longwood’s champion trees, including Cornus kousa, one of the earliest Japanese flowering dogwoods of its kind to be imported to the U.S. and still alive today.
Some examples of our Herbarium specimens include:
- Fuchsia × hybrida ‘Lord Beaconsfield', a heat-tolerant variety that is still used heavily in our hanging baskets. Fuchsia cultivars comprised the first nine accessioned plants at Longwood.
- Encephalartos woodii , a cycad species that is extinct in the wild but still alive in our conservatory
- Several specimens of Tabebuia species collected by our first Director, Dr. Russell Seibert
- The hybrid waterlily Nymphaea ‘Aquarius’ and other cultivars created by Longwood