THOUGHTS UPON THE IMPORTANCE OF HERBARIA IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
“One thing that is also not often appreciated by botanists/biologists is that experimentation and observations are made at the physical level of individuals and populations, and that the hypotheses and classifications we induce from these are metaphysical.
Audrey Moriarty was the author of Outeniqua, Tsitsikamma & Eastern Little Karoo (Southern African Wild Flower Guide 2), 1982, ISBN: 0620059419 / 0-620-05941-9. She was a prolific artist who produced a botanical art collection of about 2000 illustrations of Southern Cape plant species, many of which had not been illustrated before.
The Southern Cape Herbarium aims to:
- Curate and build up the herbarium collection.
- Establish facilities for research and education to the broadest possible spectrum of the community.
- House and catalogue the Herbarium collections in accordance with herbaria norms worldwide.
- Develop awareness of the flora of the region, and identify the importance of the flora to enable communities to gain a better understanding of the value of regional flora with regard to environmental health.
- Instil a better conservation ethic in the region to the benefit of the community and the environment as a whole.
The main research Herbarium is not open to the public. It houses a growing collection of 10 000+ pressed and named plant specimens from the region, which are organized in the “De la Torre & Harm’s” system to national and international standards. Access must be arranged with the present curator.
The Cape Floristic Region, also known as the fynbos biome or the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world. It is an area of extraordinarily high diversity and endemism (plants found nowhere else on earth) with the highest number of species per square hectare. The fynbos of the Southern Cape is an integral part of the Cape Floral Kingdom with a very high floral diversity and many endemics of its own. The Southern Cape is under-explored botanically and new species are still being found.
The Southern Cape Herbarium has been collecting and surveying the region’s indigenous vegetation for the past 17 years and is valued for its plant identification services. A herbarium is a scientific collection of preserved plant specimens which grow are indigenous to a specific geographical area. As such the Herbarium fulfils a valuable research and resource function in the conservation of the Southern Cape’s flora.