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|Picture This: A quick tour of the Western Australian Herbarium

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Cahli Samata

The Western Australian Herbarium

Picture This: A quick tour of the Western Australian Herbarium

Curator Dr John Huisman took us on a quick tour of the Western Australia Herbarium, which is part of the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Picture This: A quick tour of the Western Australian Herbarium

What is the WA Herbarium?

The Western Australian Herbarium is home to the biggest collection of introduced and native plants in WA, with over 750,000 plant specimens.
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The Western Australian Herbarium is home to the biggest collection of introduced and native plants in WA, with over 750,000 plant specimens.
Their main responsibility is the documentation and description of WA’s diverse flora.  “It’s like a plant museum or plant library.” Dr. Huisman explains
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Their main responsibility is the documentation and description of WA’s diverse flora. “It’s like a plant museum or plant library.” Dr. Huisman explains

What does the Herbarium do?

Identification: “We employ several identification botanists who can identify specimens. You can also come in to identify your specimens by matching them with specimens in our Public Reference Herbarium.”
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Identification: “We employ several identification botanists who can identify specimens. You can also come in to identify your specimens by matching them with specimens in our Public Reference Herbarium.”
Collection and curation: “We maintain and add to the collection, which includes valuable collections of type specimens. We also have important historical collections from early voyages of discovery. They can be hundreds of years old.”
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Collection and curation: “We maintain and add to the collection, which includes valuable collections of type specimens. We also have important historical collections from early voyages of discovery. They can be hundreds of years old.”
Research: “We’re working on the taxonomy of plant species, identifying and working out the classification of specimens.”
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Research: “We’re working on the taxonomy of plant species, identifying and working out the classification of specimens.”
Seed banking: “We collect the seeds of conservation-listed plants. We do lots of germination and storage trials. If a population is destroyed in the wild, we can use the seed bank to try to restore it. We also use the seeds to expand existing populations.”
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Seed banking: “We collect the seeds of conservation-listed plants. We do lots of germination and storage trials. If a population is destroyed in the wild, we can use the seed bank to try to restore it. We also use the seeds to expand existing populations.”

Why is the Herbarium’s work important?

Discovery: “We’re discovering new things all the time. We have a huge number of things in our collection that aren’t named.”
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Discovery: “We’re discovering new things all the time. We have a huge number of things in our collection that aren’t named.”
Biodiversity: “It’s important that we understand our biodiversity, how it’s related, what it consists of. We need to protect these plants. The first step is recognising what’s there.”
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Biodiversity: “It’s important that we understand our biodiversity, how it’s related, what it consists of. We need to protect these plants. The first step is recognising what’s there.”
Conservation: “About 40% of our specimens are conservation listed and regulations are applied to protect these plants. They’re named from a very small population, or a population under threat.”
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Conservation: “About 40% of our specimens are conservation listed and regulations are applied to protect these plants. They’re named from a very small population, or a population under threat.”
History: “Finding out how things evolved tells you a lot about their characteristics, and about the history of WA’s landscape as well.”
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History: “Finding out how things evolved tells you a lot about their characteristics, and about the history of WA’s landscape as well.”

Who works at the Herbarium?

“We employ about 20 staff, mostly research scientists and botanists.

“It’s an exciting field. There’s lots to do, especially in WA.”

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