Herbarium: Vascular Plants

Vascular plants have internal cellular structures for moving water up from roots and transporting products of photosynthesis from leaves to the rest of the plant.

Initiated in 1912, the vascular plant collection has the longest history of all UBC collections. Serving as the demonstrator in charge of the Herbarium and Botanical Garden, “Botany John” Davidson created both the UBC Herbarium and Botanical Garden, as well as the Vancouver Natural History Society. Today, the collection includes more than 230,000 specimens, amassed through the efforts of researchers, students, and professional and amateur botanists at UBC and around the world. Though this collection is worldly, its focus remains on BC plants. It also has excellent collections from Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

Like many collections around the world, the museum is working hard to develop a database and record images of the collection for online public access and to aid in long-term specimen conservation. More than 160,000 vascular plant records are available on a worldwide, public-access database or with shared public websites such as E-Flora BC, Canadensys, BC Conservation Data Centre, Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria, and Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Thanks to funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, BC Knowledge Development Fund, Canadian Heritage Museum Assistance Program, and UBC Irving K. Barber BC History Digitization Program, images are available from some of the earliest BC collections from John Davidson and the exquisite specimens of Dr. Gerald E. Straley, director of the Herbarium and curator of vascular plants from 1991 to 1997.

Using the Collection

The vascular plant collection includes more than 223,000 accessioned specimens.

While the Herbarium is home to the world’s largest collection of British Columbia vascular plants, it is worldwide in scope. Of the 223,000 vascular plant specimens, about 45% are from British Columbia. About 22% are from the rest of Canada, with the Northwest Territories and Yukon especially well represented. Specimens from the United States make up about 16% of the Collection, with 9% from the five Pacific Coast states (California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska) and 7% from the rest of the United States. Hawaiian plants are especially well represented. About 17% of the Collection is from the rest of the world, with the largest numbers from Great Britain, Finland, China, Australia, Denmark, Japan, South Africa, Taiwan, Russia, Greenland, and Sweden.

Type Specimens : 90

You can search the Herbarium’s vascular plant specimens through our online database.

If you would like to access the Herbarium’s vascular plant collection for research purposes, please contact Linda Jennings (see contact information).

For studies showing how the Herbarium’s vascular plant collection has been used, please see our Articles & Papers page.