Science & Conservation

NTBG’s herbarium, library, and living collections are indispensable to our research and conservation programs. The resources these facilities provide to staff, researchers and students in Hawai’i and worldwide are incomparable. The immediate proximity of comprehensive living collections of tropical flora to an extensive herbarium and an extraordinary botanical library is rare.

Online Resources now available:


Botanical Research Center

The Juliet Rice Wichman Botanical Research Center (BRC) at NTBG’s national headquarters on Kaua’i was completed in 2008 and was the first LEED® Gold Certified building on Kaua’i. The 20,000 sq. ft. facility is a climate-controlled, hurricane resistant building that houses NTBG’s seed bank and laboratory, herbarium, library collections, ample workspace and access to collections for staff, students, and other visiting researchers.


The NTBG herbarium is a reference collection of permanently preserved plant specimens with a focus on regional floras across the Pacific. The herbarium also includes excellent reference collections of Rubiaceae and Monimiaceae from tropical America, Madagascar, and New Caledonia.

It is the Garden’s oldest scientific collection with its first specimens documenting the flora of the garden’s original site in the Lawa’i Valley, Kauai. From that humble beginning the collection has grown to almost 80,000 specimens of flowering plants, gymnosperms, ferns and fern allies, fungi, and bryophytes. In addition the herbarium houses vouchered carpological, seed, wood and spirit collections. It is the foundation for the Garden’s research programs in systematics, floristics, and conservation and serves as the repository for the only institutional collecting program in the State of Hawaii.



The library collection at NTBG houses more than 20,000 books, journals, botanical prints, and archival materials. The focus is on published literature relating to systematic botany, ethnobotany and horticulture, as well as ethnographic works related to Pacific island archipelagos from the 16th century onward.

Original botanical art, including that prepared for use in the NTBG’s scientific publications, illuminates and augments the botanical record and the holdings of the library. Slide and photographic print collections include roughly 8,000 historical images and 16,000 images of Hawaiian and Pacific island plants and people.

The library holdings also include the Loy McCandless Marks Botanical Library. This collection includes rare volumes of herbals, botanical history, voyages of discovery, floras, and monographs. It is especially strong in 18th and 19th century botanical literature and early Renaissance herbals, with some works representing impressive first steps from medieval superstition to modern botany.

Browse the Library Database


DNA Library

The DNA collection consists of approximately 3,000 specimens of silica-preserved leaf tissue of vascular plants from Hawaii and other Pacific archipelagos as well as material from plant species represented in the National Tropical Botanical Garden’s living collections. The desiccated tissue is held in long-term cold storage at a temperature of -10° F. All material is available for use by collaborators at no cost although donations covering curation and shipping are welcome.


Seed Bank and Laboratory

The Seed Bank and Laboratory provides 600 sq. ft. of laboratory space for studying seed and pollen storage behavior; seed germination ecology and dormancy; and other aspects of seed biology. With storage temperatures of 5, -18, and -80°C, the facility is equipped to effectively store, curate, and investigate germplasm from species whose seeds, spores, and pollen span a range of desiccation tolerances from orthodox to intermediate.

An area of over 70 sq. ft. inside germination chambers offers abundant space for a variety of germination experiments. A laminar flow hood provides a sterile working environment for in vitro seed germination, and direct ventilation including a fume hood is available from the adjacent Acacia Laboratory. Pressurized and treated fresh water is plumbed into the Lab and can then be steam distilled for a convenient supply of distilled water. All critical equipment in the lab is outfitted with wireless, cloud-based climate sensors and data loggers to monitor environmental conditions from anywhere in the world with access to an internet connection.


Acacia Laboratory

The Acacia Laboratory houses a wet lab equipped with fume hood and direct outside ventilation. It is stocked with laboratory glassware, balances, and a limited selection of chemical reagents.

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