Herbarium Curator Timothy W. Flynn is responsible for curating NTBGs herbarium (PTBG). This includes ensuring the collections and their associated data are well organized, updated, preserved and accessible for research and other uses.
Tim has been working at NTBG since 1981. In addition to curating the herbarium he has also participated in fieldwork in Hawaiʻi, Samoa, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Palau, Australia, New Caledonia, and Ecuador. Tim has a special interest in collecting often overlooked non-flowering plants such as bryophytes (mosses) to ensure the collections are representative of the flora.
The herbarium (acronym PTBG) is a scientific reference collection of permanently preserved plant specimens and includes nearly 90,000 herbarium specimens focused primarily on the plants of the Hawaiian Islands and areas of the tropical Pacific (primarily Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia) with ca. 86% of the collections from these areas.
The collections include native, cultivated, and invasive vascular plants species as well as bryophytes, lichens, marine algae and fungi. The herbarium is a unique reference of natural history and a resource for researchers both at the National Tropical Botanical Garden and worldwide.
The herbarium was established in 1971 as a record of the local flora when the Garden began operations and the collections have been built over more than 50 years through field expeditions and exchange with other herbaria across the World. NTBG has a very active collecting program adding 1-2 thousand new specimens per year, primarily from Hawaii and the Pacific.
Our oldest collections are from the expeditions of the French Botanists Charles (M) Gaudichaud-Beaupré (1789-1854) in 1836-1837 and Jules Rémy (1826-1893) in 1851-1855 bringing them to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). These collections were received as gifts from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France.
Over the last few decades collection focus has been on documenting the Flora of Hawaii, in particular Kauai, as well as collecting work for major regional floras including the Marquesas Islands, Micronesia and Samoa. Especially, NTBG collectors Tim Flynn, David H. Lorence, Steve Perlman, and Kenneth R. Wood and collaborators have added thousands of specimens each over the years.
Strengths of the collections include:
• With nearly 90,000 specimens the herbarium is an important reference of natural history and a resource for researchers and conservationists.
• Many old and recent collections from the Hawaiian Islands including native, endemic and rare plants, in particular the most complete collections from Kauai over the last 50 years.
• Many collections from the wider Pacific, in particular collections from major regional Flora projects including from Cook Islands, Marquesas Islands, Micronesia, and Samoa.
• Breadfruit collections from the across the Pacific, documenting work of the Breadfruit Institute.
• Extensive reference collections of Rubiaceae and Monimiaceae from tropical America, Madagascar, and New Caledonia.
• The collections are well curated, largely updated, and about 2/3 digitized and searchable through the herbarium database.
• 315 type specimens also available through JSTOR Plants.
• Repository for NTBGs five botanical gardens and preserves in Hawaii and Florida, including nearly 2000 species and over 3000 taxa.
Important collectors in the herbarium are:
Tim Flynn, Jacques Florence, Derral Herbst, William J. Hoe, David H. Lorence, Gordon McPherson, Hank Oppenheimer, Steve Perlman, James R. Shevock, Natalia Tangalin, Seana K. Walsh, Art Whistler, Kenneth R. Wood.
With 167 known taxa of native ferns and lycophytes in Hawaii (ca. 15% of the native flora), and nearly 150 are endemic to Hawaii. On other island systems such as the Marquesas, ferns constitute nearly 1/3 of the flora. This beautiful Hymenophyllum obtusum was recorded for the first time on Kaua‘i by NTBG botanists Ken Wood and Seana Walsh in 2019.
NTBG works to improve our understanding of their flora through major regional Flora projects such as the Flora of Micronesia, which is a collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and local partners in Micronesia. Collections are deposited in NTBGs herbarium with duplicates in local and other collaborating herbaria. This new species Pandanus lorencei was discovered on a limestone rock island in Palau and named after the collector by K.L. Huynh.
Some of the oldest plant collections in NTBGs herbarium (PTBG) are from the expedition by French botanist and explorer Jules Rémy (1826-1893) to Hawai’i 1851-1855. This well-preserved specimen of Tribulus cistoides was collected on Hawaii (Big island) in 1853, sent to NTBG as a gift from Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris, France, and still displays the yellow flowers well nearly 170 years later. Gifts from collectors and exchanges of duplicate specimens between herbaria improve the coverage and scientific value of the collections.
To learn more about our collections browse these pages. Some of our underlying databases are public. Access to the herbarium and library collections in the Juliet Rice Wichman Botanical Research Center for scientific or education purposes can be arranged. See contact information under each collection.