The herbarium represents one of the most important means of preserving plants outside their natural habitats and is one of the most important components of universities, botanical gardens, and national reserves around the world. The aim of the herbarium in these places is a research goal, as the herbarium provides plant samples classified according to the scientific nomenclature system. The primary task of a herbarium is to provide samples of taxonomic plant samples that exist in a specific area, or several geographical areas, with the aim of studying plants from a taxonomic, anatomical, morphological, physiological, and genetic point of view.
Just as national libraries play their civilizational role as containers for preserving human intellectual heritage, so do plant herbariums serve as containers for preserving the natural plant heritage, as represented in the samples that are collected, dried, and scientifically classified according to their various species and families. They are preserved in a way that enables researchers to easily refer to them when needed. The herbarium is a sustainable scientific and cognitive reservoir that can be referred to in scientific and documentary studies related to plants.
Herbarium specimens are samples of plants, which are pressed and dried, then attached to leaves of special specifications to create an image matching that of a living plant. These herbarium specimens are provided with the scientific and local names of plants, taxonomic information, environmental information, and geographical coordinates relating to their habitation in nature. The herbarium samples include the date of collection, the name of the person who collected the plant, and other information. The herbarium samples are arranged in tight cupboards according to the classification systems adopted for the plant. The place where herbarium specimens are kept is called the herbarium. A good herbarium is one in which the largest number of plant species is represented and contains a large number of samples.
The importance of herbariums
- The herbarium provides an easy method for examining many different plant species, or the different types of a single plant species, according to different environmental and collection seasons, naming unidentified plant samples, and making taxonomic comparisons between plant species and genera.
- The herbarium provides a valuable and lasting record of plant life; it shows the different stages of plant growth, depending on the date and place of collection and the state of the plant at the time of its collection.
- The herbarium is one of the most important means of preserving the genetic assets of plants. Through it, the genetic footprint of different plant species can be compared without the need to visit their original habitat.
- It is considered one of the most important means of external conservation, as it is the scientific storehouse for those plant species under threat of extinction.
- Herbarium specimens are an important research and educational tool; through herbarium samples, specialists can explain to the general public and students the fundamental differences that exist between species, as well as the phenotypic and anatomical structure of the plant.
Tasks of the Herbarium Unit
- Documenting herbarium samples by collecting plant samples available for those plants which are native to the State of Qatar or collecting them from their natural habitat around the world.
- Helping to preserve native plants from extinction.
- Documenting the different stages of plant growth by taking samples at different times.
- Scientific photography of plants externally and internally, documenting the different stages of plant growth, and establishing a library of photos.
- Preparing an electronic library of samples by scanning them.
- Creating a database of herbarium specimens and the locations of plants around the world.
- Exchange of samples with national and international bodies.
- Providing educational programs in relation to plants, botanical terminology, and plant physiological processes.
- Providing samples for display in the Botanical Garden’s information center, as well as participation in educational and awareness activities for parks, universities, and nature reserves.
This consists of a number of the most important herbal botanical samples collected from within the State of Qatar, from wild and cultivated areas, where they have been preserved and classified using a scientific methodology, with the aim of identifying the taxonomic data for the plants mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and Hadith, as well as local wild plants.