Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Indian Virtual Herbarium, biggest database of country’s flora, is a global hit


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Herbaria

Mains level: Not Much

With details of about one lakh plant specimens, the Indian Virtual Herbarium, the biggest virtual database of flora in the country, is generating a lot of interest and turning out to be an eye-catching endeavour.

Indian Virtual Herbarium

  • A herbarium specimen is consists of dried plant parts with labelled information on Scientific name and collection data.
  • It has immense use in plant identification, systematics studies and ecological studies.
  • The Botanical Survey of India has more than 30,00,000 herbarium specimens persevered in different herbaria located in different parts of the country.
  • Developed by scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), the herbarium was inaugurated by Union Minister of Environment Forest and Climate Change in Kolkata last month.

Why in news?

  • Since launch, the portal has had nearly two lakh hits from 55 countries.
  • The portal includes about one lakh images of herbarium specimens.
  • Each record in the digital herbarium includes an image of the preserved plant specimen, scientific name, collection locality, and collection date, collector name, and barcode number.
  • The digital herbarium includes features to extract the data State-wise, and users can search plants of their own States, which will help them identify regional plants and in building regional checklists.

Significance of the herbaria

  • Scientists say that there are approximately three million plant specimens in the country which are with different herbaria located at zonal centres of the BSI.
  • About 52% of our type specimens are from foreign nations and collected from 82 countries of the world during the British-era.
  • The herbarium is also deeply linked with the botanical history of the country.
  • The portal provides most valuable historical collections of botanists like William Roxburgh, Nathaniel Wallich and Joseph Dalton Hooker, considered the founding fathers of botany in India.
  • The digital herbarium has some of the oldest botanical specimens dating as early as 1696.


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