[Science News] - Meise Botanic Garden's lichen collection grows by 70,000 specimens!

Mon 16 Oct

The herbarium collection at Meise Botanic Garden includes not only extensive collections of vascular plants, mosses, algae, slime molds and mushrooms, but also a remarkable collection of lichens. The BR Herbarium is among the top 15 largest in the world, totaling as many as 4,000,000 collection items.

Since 2021, the lichen collection has experienced significant growth, with an impressive increase of more than 70,000 new specimens. This has increased the total number of specimens to over 220,000. These 70,000 specimens come from two important collections: those of Dutch lichenologist Pieter van den Boom and Luxembourg lichenologist Paul Diederich. Both experts have collected specimens all over the world, both during their own expeditions and through exchanges with other lichenologists.

A remarkable feature of these collections is the presence of more than 300 type specimens. This material has been invaluable in the description of newly discovered lichen species. In addition, the collections contain numerous specimens collected from locations where little material has been available to date, such as Macaronesia, Papua New Guinea and Mauritius. The collection also includes the largest lichen collection from Portugal. What makes this collection even more exceptional is that virtually all of the lichen species known to date worldwide are now represented in our collection.

All data related to these specimens, including information on location, collector and date of collection, have already been entered into a database and will soon be available for download on our virtual herbarium, located at www.botanicalcollections.be.

Both Pieter Van den Boom and Paul Diederich have published important scientific studies in collaboration with the lichenologists associated with the Garden. Their collection therefore constitutes an essential basis for scientific research ranging from morphological analysis to DNA studies.