Herbarium details: Allan Herbarium (CHR)


Maanaki Whenua – Landcare Research
PO Box 40
Lincoln 7640
New Zealand

Allan Herbarium (CHR)


+64 3 321 9999


+64 3 321 9998



Canterbury Agriculture and Science Centre, Gerald Street, Lincoln 8152 (23 km south–west of Christchurch)



Founded 1928 as the herbarium of the Plant Research Station, Department of Agriculture, Palmerston North. From 1938–1948 it was called the Herbarium Botany Division, Plant Research Bureau, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) at Wellington. In 1954 the Herbarium of Botany Division, DSIR, moved to Christchurch and in 1960 it moved to Lincoln. Botany Division became Botany Institute, DSIR Land Resources on 1 April 1990, and on 1 July 1992 DSIR Land Resources became part of Landcare Research New Zealand LTD – Manaaki Whenau, a Crown Research Institute. The Herbarium of Canterbury Museum (CANTY) established in the 1860´s, was incorporated in 1975.


Crown Research Institute


The collections form the basis for flora writing, with the aim of representing the distribution and variation of taxa throughout their range. Comparative material from other countires, especially the south Pacific region, is being built up.

Reference for day–to–day identification for government departments, other institutions, and the public.

Voucher repository for other botanical fields: ecology, palynology, anatomy, cytology, biochemistry.

Scope of Collections

Approximately two–thirds of the specimens are of indigenous plants with the remaining third divided between naturalised, cultivated, and foreign specimens. All groups except microfungi are represented. At least 741 type specimens of vascular plants have been identified, including isotypes of primary types held at other institutions. The number of types of cryptogamic plants is not known, but with collections of R. Brown ter., T.W.N. Beckett, G.O.K. Sainsbury, and E.A. Hodgson (bryophytes); J.S. Thomson and H.H. Allan (lichens); V.W. Linauer and L.B. Moore (marine algae), the total number of types is probably in excess of 1200.

Number of Collections

There are over 600 000 specimens in the Allan Herbarium with 5000–10,000 being added annually. Two–thirds of the specimens are of indigenous plants with the remainder divided between naturalised, cultivated, and foreign specimens.


Several databases are associated with the Allan Herbarium. Two of the most important are the Plant Names Database and the specimen database.

The Plant Names Database records the scientific names of plant taxa in the New Zealand flora. It includes the current names for lichens, liverworts, mosses, ferns, and seed plants that are wild in New Zealand. The database also includes the synonyms for the New Zealand mosses, lichens and ferns.

The specimen database is used to store and retrieve herbarium specimen information and to generate specimen labels. It is the largest database at the herbarium, currently nearly 180,000 records, or approximately 30% of the specimens in the herbarium are databased. Specimens are added to the database according to research and conservation priorities.

Other databases at the herbarium are used to assist in the management of the collection (e.g., the Loan and Cabinets databases), track ancillary collections (e.g., Type Photo Database), or record other biodiversity–related data (e.g., a bibliographic database).

All the databases are currently being upgraded to provide an integrated information system for floristic, nomenclatural, and herbarium management purposes.

Important collections

The main collections of the following New Zealand botanists are held: H.H. Allan, K.W. Allison, J.F. & J.B. Armstrong, T.W.N. Beckett, H. Carse, J. Child, A.P. Druce, F.C. Duguid, F.G. Gibbs, E.A. Flint, A.J. Healey, R.M. Laing, W. McKay, W. Martin, R. Mason, L.B. Moore, W.A. Scarfe, G. Simpson, G. Stevenson, W.R. Sykes, H. Talbot, J.S. Thomson, A. Wall, and Cape Expedition – Auckland and Campbell Is. 1941–45.

Additional collections of many botanists whose main herbaria are elsewhere include: J. Banks and D.C. Solander, L. Cockayne, R.M. Laing, V.W. Lindauer, G.O.K. Sainsbury, H.H. Travers, S. Berggren, D.H. Vitt.

Overseas collections include: Fiji: D.E.V. & J. Parham, G. Brownlie, A.C. Smith, P.J. Garnock–Jones; Tonga: G. Buelow, W.R. Sykes; Norfolk Island: R.M. Laing, W.R. Sykes; New Caledonia; G. Brownlie, P.N. Johnson, G. McPherson; Melesian ferns: S. Berger; New Guinea: J.R. Croft, W.R. & M.N. Philipson; Western Samoa: B.E.V. Parham; Niue: W.R. Sykes; Cook Islands: W.R. Sykes; Peruvian Andes: J. Davison, J.C. Tothill; southern Chile: E.J. Godley; southern Australia adn Tasmania: L.B. Moore, M.J. Parsons; North America: D.R. Given.

Specimens are exchanged with 53 overseas herbaria in 20 countries.

Ancillary Collections

Seed packets, 9000. Liquid preserved material, especially marine algae and orchids. Photographs of type specimens. The library is especially rich in taxonomic literature including older works, and there is an extensive experimental garden. The palynologists maintain a large collection of pollen slides, and the artists curate original line drawings, water colours and colour transparencies.

Staff and Research

Herbarium Keeper:  Dr Ilse Breitwieser (Systematic research on New Zealand angiosperms, especially Asteraceae.)
Herbarium Manager: Ines Schönberger
Herbarium Database Manager:  Dr Aaron Wilton (Biodiversity informatics)

Kate Boardman (Database Administrator, as Jane Cruickshank is on leave)
Murray Dawson (Research assistance cytotaxonomy and molecular systematics)
Dr Allan Fife (Systematic research on New Zealand bryophytes)
Sue Gibb (Curation, cryptogams)
Dr David Glenny (New Zealand Angiospermae; Hepaticae)
Ines Schönberger (Herbarium Manager)
Dr Peter Heenan (Systematic research on New Zealand angiosperms, especially Fabaceae, Brassicaceae, and naturalised plants)
Mary Korver (Curatorial assistance; loans.)
Dr Phil Novis (Systematic research on freshwater algae)
Debby Redmond (Curatorial assistance; data entry)
Dr Rob Smissen (Systematic research on New Zealand angiosperms, especially Caryophyllaceae and Asteraceae)
Katarina Tawiri (Curator of the NZ Flax Collection; data entry)
Dr Steve Wagstaff (Molecular systematic research on New Zealand plants)

Friends of the Herbarium:

Charles Graham, Elisabeth Ross, Marie Stewart

Research associates:
Dr Jessica Beever, Dr Henry Connor, Dr David Drury, Dr David Galloway, Bryony Macmillan, Dr Brian Molloy, Bill Sykes, Dr Colin Webb (Seed Atlas), Hugh Wilson.

For a description of research please see the Plant Biosystematics Research Page