Botany Department

The botany department aims to study, conserve and promote an awareness and appreciation of the rich botanical diversity of the arid environments of the Northern Cape, for the benefit of its people.

The botany section includes the KMG Herbarium which is a collection of preserved plants and their relative information. The Alexander McGregor Museum Herbarium, Kimberley (KMG Herbarium) is listed in the Index Herbariorum of herbaria worldwide. Maria Wilman, first Director of the McGregor Museum, founded it in 1908. This herbarium houses a collection of Northern Cape plants and serves as a regional herbarium for an area encompassing almost a third of South Africa.

The collection, which includes a number of valuable type specimens, comprises mainly of specimens collected in the Northern Cape, and mostly in the area north of the Orange River. This area includes Griqualand West and the Kalahari. Many of these specimens were collected along the Vaal and Orange rivers and in areas around Kimberley that are now developed, and are therefore irreplaceable.

Special collections include specimens collected by J.P.H. Acocks, Maria Wilman for her Preliminary Checklist of the Flowering Plants and Ferns of Griqualand West, A.A. Gubb for a vegetation map of the Northern Cape, and rare and threatened plants of the Northern Cape collected during research on their conservation status. Collecting trips to expand the collection are now aimed at areas that are under-represented or where plants have not been previously collected.

The KMG Herbarium specimen data are captured on the Botanical Research and Herbarium Management System (BRAHMS). This results in more efficient and effective information and data retrieval and sharing.

Herbaria are important storage and retrieval systems for plant-related data. This raw data forms the basis of many fields of plant research, where the first step is usually the correct identification of a species. Herbaria play an important role in supplying other researchers, industry and the public with botanical information.

Research should be a major function and include research in taxonomy in general, conservation, ecology, ethnobotany, and floristics. With the present number of staff and expertise it is not possible to fulfill all these aims, but we are hoping that new posts will be created in future.

 

Annemarie van Heerden

KMG Herbarium Collection Manager
Tel: (+27)53 839 2736
e-mail:katte@museumsnc.co.za

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