Herbarium specimens are samples of plants that are pressed and dehydrated for preservation. These specimens are mounted on specially designed sheets of paper so that they look as close to live plants as possible. They are then labeled with essential information, such as the plants’ local and scientific names, classification, and environmental data, including the locations and altitudes of their natural habitats. The specimens also include archival data, such as the name of the person who collected them and the date they were included in the collection. These specimens are then cataloged and stored in protective cabinets according to an internationally recognized classification scheme. The place where these specimens are stored is called a herbarium, and a good herbarium has as many specimens from different plant species as possible.
Just as national libraries and archives play a role in the preservation of cultural and intellectual heritage, herbariums serve as a depository of natural heritage. Plant specimens are collected, dried, labeled by species according to scientific standards, and cataloged in ways that allow scholars to refer to them easily.
The term “herbarium” also has medical usages, as it used to mean “medicinal herbs manual.” In fact, Swedish botanist Linnaseus was the first to use the term as we know it today, but it was Ghini, an Italian scholar, who was the first to develop the specimen preservation process that is still currently used. This process has made it possible to develop the plant taxonomies and cataloging methods used to help preserve natural heritage.
•The function of the herbarium at the Qur’anic Botanic Garden is to support research efforts, as it provides cataloged plant specimens along with related data. Researchers can find specimens from particular geographic locations for research on plant anatomy, morphology, physiology, and even genetics.
•The herbarium provides access to research materials on many different plant species as well as different sub-species and types of variations in plants due to differences in the environment and collection seasons.
•The herbarium provides information that help identify plant specimens using comparative classifications methods.
•The herbarium provides valuable information on plant lifecycles, as the collected specimens are archived and cataloged by date and collection site, along with descriptions of the physical state of source plants at the time of collection.
•The herbarium is also one of the most important ways to the preserve the genetic roots of plants, as the DNA information of archived specimens can be compared to those of different plants without having to collect samples in the original locations.
•The herbarium helps with ex-situ conservation, as it functions as a scientific depository of endangered plant species.
•The specimens at the herbarium are a valuable educational resource. Specialists can use them to offer the public learning experiences about the differences between plant species and their structure and anatomy.
1. The herbarium collects, preserves, catalogs, and archives specimens of the plans mentioned in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, whether they grow in Qatar or abroad.
2. As part of its responsibility toward the environment, the herbarium collaborates with concerned local agencies to collects and preserve endangered Qatari flora.
3. The herbarium documents the developmental stages of plants by taking specimens at different points of their lifecycles.
4. The herbarium houses an image archive of plants to document their developmental stages.
5. The herbarium develops and maintains a digital archive of scanned plant specimens.
6. The herbarium develops and maintains databases of plant specimens and data about their geographical distribution.
7. The herbarium grows plants in the Garden’s greenhouses to facilitate the collection of specimens.
8. The herbarium exchanges plant specimens with national and international agencies.
9. The herbarium provides educational programs to promote knowledge about plants, their classifications, and their physiological processes.
10. The herbarium provides specimens for display in the Garden’s information center and participates in the Garden’s educational events and activities.