Database of Estonian plant collections

The database of plant collections comprises data of specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes and algae which are preserved in four herbariums. These are the herbarium of the Botanical and mycological museum in the University of Tartu Natural History Museum (TU), the herbarium of the Department of Botany in the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (TAA), the herbarium of the Tallinn Botanic Garden (TALL) and the herbarium of the Estonian Museum of Natural History (TAM). The database has been created in cooperation of the University of Tartu, the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Tallinn Botanic Garden and the Estonian Museum of Natural History.

Presently 334 885 especimens are recorded in the database, of which:

  • 117 341 specimens in TAA
  • 28 863 specimens in TALL
  • 103 495 specimens in TAM
  • 85 186 specimens in TU

Locality points are clickable and linked to specimen. Intensive circles mark groups of country centroids where exact location is not available.

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Botany collections

TU is the oldest herbarium in Estonia, also the largest, founded in 1802. The botany collection holds 282 989 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes and macroalgae, including type specimens of 51 taxa, these numbers describe the collections in 2014. The oldest dated herbarium sheet in the collection comes from 1819, the oldest dated herbarium sheet collected from Estonian grounds comes from 1834. The materials have mostly been collected by the staff of the University of Tartu, supplementing the collections has been a part of botanical research. The collections have grown by donations from private collections as well. The Herbarium Generale holds specimens from all over the world, many of these have been taken in by exchange from other herbaria. Today collections usually grow when the materials from expeditions and fieldwork are taken in, less by exchanges or donations. Of the Estonian herbariums, the TU keeps the largest collection of botanical materials from abroad (mostly from Russia, but also from Australia, e.g.).

The herbarium of vascular plants includes (1) the Herbarium Generale of an estimated 200 000 specimens, most of which have been collected from the area of the former Russian Empire (later Soviet Union) and (2) the Plantae Estonicae of 72 666 specimens (in 2013).

The bryophyte herbarium includes valuable historical collections and 16 collections of exsiccata (of an estimated 8 000 specimens), the herbarium holds materials collected from abroad as well, an estimated 6 000 specimens of about 1 500 taxa. Type specimens of 3 bryophyte taxa are preserved there. The collection of Estonian mosses is representative as well, in 2014 it included 9 077 specimens of about 520 taxa.

The algae collections include the herbarium of macroalgae (823 herbarium sheets in the beginning of 2014), the collection of microalgae (ca 1000 specimens) and the collection of the figures of algae (iconothèque) of an estimated 14 000 sheets of sketches and descriptions of algae taxa.

TAA was founded in 1947, when the collection of an estimated 15 000 herbarium sheets belonging to the Estonian Naturalists' Society was given to the then established Institute of Zoology and Botany. The collection consisted mostly of the herbarium that the Estonian Naturalists' Society had collected in 1920–1940 via exchanges, and of the herbaria of the Baltic German botanists, mostly from the 19th century. Today the herbarium includes an estimated 163 000 herbarium sheets of vascular plants, type specimens of 26 taxa among these. The collection of vascular plants consists mostly of materials collected from Estonian grounds (an estimated 113 000 species), this is the largest collection we have of Estonian plants. The herbarium includes the teaching collection as well (ca 1200 sheets) and Herbarium Generale (ca 42 000 specimens) mostly from Europe (Baltics, Scandinavia, European part of Russia), from Russia (in its Asian part) and America.

In separate sections the herbarium of K. E. v. Baer is kept of an estimated 6500 herbarium sheets from the 19th century collected from Eastern Europe, Siberia, Caucasus and the area around Caspian Sea, less from Estonia. Separate is the collection of seeds as well, of about 1300 samples. The herbarium of aquatic plants (ca 40 000 sheets) has been collected while studying the Estonian waterbodies, this resides in the limnology centre of the lake Võrtsjärv.

The collection of mosses includes an estimated 26 000 specimens of 1300 taxa, 5 type specimens among these (in 2013). The herbarium of Estonian mosses holds ca 17 500 specimens, the general herbarium ca 2500 specimens, supplemented by 10 collections of exsiccata (of 1258 specimens in total) and the historical collections (ca 5500 specimens).

TALL ,the herbarium of the Tallinn Botanic Garden was founded in 1962. In 2013 it included over 84 000 specimens. The herbarium is divided in seven sections: the herbariums of herbs and woody plants, the herbariums of lichens and mosses, the herbarium of fungi, the collections of wood and of fruits. In nature education the teaching collection is used as well. The materials in the Herbarium Generale come mostly from Russia (Siberia, Far East), Central Asia, Caucasus, Central and Southern Europe, Australia, and from elsewhere. The herbarium of mosses includes over 16 000 specimens. The herbarium of woody plants and herbs includes ca 18 000 specimens, some exsiccata among the woody plants have been taken in by exchange. The collections of fruits and of wood are not as large, consisting of ca 700 samples of fruits and of ca 400 samples of wood.

TAM The herbarium is founded on the botanical collections of the Provincial Museum of Estonia established in 1864. A separate museum now known as the Estonian Museum of Natural History was established in 1941 on the basis of the natural science specimens of the Provincial Museum.

As of 2016, the vascular plant herbarium of the Estonian Museum of Natural History contains 79 000 specimens. 77 700 of these are herbarium sheets and the rest are fruits, seeds or cones. Most of the material has been collected from Estonia, with most of the Estonian flora – over 1 600 taxa – represented. The herbarium houses 66 type specimens. The oldest specimens of the vascular plant herbarium date from the 1830ies.

The largest sub-collections of the vascular plant herbarium are Herbarium Estonicum (approx. 26 000 herbarium sheets collected since 1900) and Herbarium Balticum (approx. 14 700 sheets). The latter contains material from the years 1839‒1900 and consists of the collections of many renowned botanists and amateur botanists of that period. The largest personal collections are those of Rudolph Lehbert (over 11 700 specimens) and Jules Treboux (nearly 10 000 specimens), whose material has been collected in the second half of the 19th century and first decades of the 20th century from Estonia and abroad. The most substantial collection will be that of Heinrich Aasamaa, an outstanding botanist of the past century, of which 11 300 herbarium sheets have been tidied up and entered in the PlutoF database.

The bryophyte herbarium contains 28 700 specimens. Its sub-collections are Herbarium Estonicum (approx.19 600 specimens), Herbarium Generale (approx. 8 300 specimens), and exsiccate collections (approx. 800 specimens). Over 480 taxa of Estonian bryophytes are represented, while material collected from abroad exists for over 2 000 taxa. The oldest specimens of the bryophyte herbarium date from the 1850ies.

Contact information

Herbarium curators

TU

  • Botanical and mycological museum, head: Kai Vellak (kai.vellak@ut.ee)
  • Herbarium of vascular plants, curators: Ülle Reier: (ulle.reier@ut.ee); Kaili Orav (kaili.orav@ut.ee)
  • Herbarium of mosses, curators: Mari Müür (mari.müür@ut.ee); Tiiu Kupper (tiiu.kupper@ut.ee)

Address: University of Tartu, Botanical and mycological museum, Lai 38-40, Tartu 51005

TAA

  • Herbarium of vascular plants, curators: Toomas Kukk (tomkukk@gmail.com), Thea Kull (thea.kull@emu.ee)
  • Herbarium of mosses, curator: Mare Leis (mare.leis@emu.ee)

Address: Estonian University of Life Sciences, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, herbarium,Kreutzwaldi 5, Tartu 51014

TAM

  • Department of botany, head: Loore Ehrlich (loore.ehrlich@loodusmuuseum.ee)
  • Curator of the bryophyte herbarium: Loore Ehrlich (loore.ehrlich@loodusmuuseum.ee)
  • Curator of the vascular plant herbarium: Jana-Maria Habicht (jana-maria.habicht@loodusmuuseum.ee)

Address: Estonian Museum of Natural History, Botanical collections. Toompuiestee 26, Tallinn 10149

TALL

  • Curator of the herbarium: Merlyn Pajur (merlyn.pajur@botaanikaaed.ee)

Address: Tallinn Botanic Garden, herbarium. Kloostrimetsa tee 52, Tallinn 11913

Database-related technical issues:

  • Kessy Abarenkov (kessy.abarenkov@ut.ee)