The Vascular Plant Herbarium aims to give a complete illustration of the flora of Wales by means of collections which are international in scope, importance and quality. To enable the Welsh flora to be put into context, there is also material from the remainder of the British Isles, Europe and the rest of the world. The collections are of international importance.
The herbarium originated in 1870 when Cardiff Museum purchased a small collection of dried plants collected in the 1830's by Charles Conway. This collection was added to by John Storrie who gave his collections to the Museum in 1888, and around 1900, two important collections were received from A. Bennett and H.J. Riddelsdell. In 1912 the collection was taken over by the newly constituted National Museum of Wales, when it constituted some 3,500 mounted specimens. By 1997 the collections had expanded to some 235,000 specimens through gifts, exchange, purchase of herbaria and new collections.
The herbarium contains approximately 40% Welsh material, 25% remainder of British Isles, 22% foreign and 3% cultivated. Virtually all native British plants are represented, as well as many introduced species. There are good collections of critical groups including Taraxacum, Hieracium, Euphrasia and the outstanding Rubus collection. Associated collections include the library, timber collections, photographic slides, spirit, carpological, seed, stamps and cigarette cards and economic plants.
Research strengths within the section include taxonomy, distribution and ecology of UK plants, conservation of rare plants, vegetation and environmental impact assessment.