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 371 127 especimens are recorded in the database, of which:

  • 147 516 specimens in TAA
  • 4 614 specimens in TALL
  • 116 544 specimens in TAM
  • 102 453 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 , the Herbarium was founded in 1947, when the newly established Institute of Biology (later Institute of Zoology and Botany) was entrusted with the Estonian Naturalists’ Society’s collection of 15 000 herbarium sheets. This consisted mainly of the Society’s exchange herbarium, which was collected between1920-1940, and of the Baltic-German Botanical Herbarium, collected mainly in the 19th century. The Herbarium’s main focus is to collect and preserve specimens from taxa growing in Estonia. Besides providing data for answering taxonomic questions, the large quantity of material within the Herbarium makes it possible to investigate species’ patterns of variability and distribution. The Herbarium preserves genetic material from different time periods. The smaller-scale Herbarium Generale is used primarily to provide reference material for the identification of Estonian plants. Botanical evidence, cited in a variety of scientific articles, is preserved within the collection.

Collection contains: 160 000 specimens of vascular plants, 29 500 exemplars of bryophytes, 1300 specimens in Teaching Herbarium, 1300 seed samples from 700 taxon (data from November 2017).

The Herbarium of Vascular Plants consists of the Estonian Plant Herbarium, the Herbarium Generale and the Seed Collection. The Dendrological Herbarium is preserved as a small, separate collection.

The Estonian herbarium contains more than 130 000 herbarium sheets. A large part of the material was collected during investigations of Estonian flora in the second half of the 20th century. At that time, the main herbalists were Estonia’s best known botanists, including Maret Kask, Linda Viljasoo, Vilma Kuusk, Heljo Krall, Livia-Maria Laasimer, Visolde Puusepp, Haide-Ene Rebassoo, Silvia Talts, and Ella Tammemägi. As a result of the botanical investigations of that period, the 11-volumed work „Estonia’s SSR Flora“ was completed.

The more historical part of the collection originates from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. You can find here herbarium sheets from many botanists and plant collectors of that time, including Paul Lackschewitz, Theodor Lackschewitz, Johannes Klinge, Carl Maximowitsch, Karl Reinhold Kupffer, Rudolf Lehbert, Alexander von Schrenk, Julius Killoman, Hugo Kapp and Gustav Vilbaste.

The Karl Ernst v. Baer Herbarium, which dates back to the 19th century, contains nearly 10 000 herbarium sheets, and this is kept as a separate collection. Material here originates from western Europe, Siberia, Caucasia and from areas around the Caspian Sea, from Asia and Africa and, to a lesser extent, from Estonia. The organization and digitalisation of this collection has been carried out in the years 2016-2017. As a result of this organizational work, the Baer Collection is now visible in databases for all those interested.

The Herbarium General's material (nearly 21 000) originates primarily from the Russian Arctic and Siberia, from the European part of Russia, from Central-Asia, the Far-East, Caucasia, North America, Central and Southern Europe, Scandinavia, Latvia and Lithuania. The Herbarium Generale is organised systematically in a similar way to the Estonian Herbarium.

In the Vascular Plants’ Collection there are 29 type specimens (from the families Calystegia, Carex, Crepis, Dactylorhiza, Hieracium, Hordeum, Juncus, Lepidium, Ranunculus.)

The Vascular Plant Collection also includes the Seed Collection, where over 700 taxa can be found. The seeds are preserved in glass containers or in plastic bags at room temperature. Seeds of the Estonian wild orchid are kept separately in a freezer at minus 80 degrees.

The Bryophyte Collection consists of the Estonian Herbarium and the Herbarium Generale. It consists of approx. 29 000 moss samples. 1349 moss species and 30 varieties or sub-species are represented in the Herbarium. Of these 128 taxa are liverworts (4364 exemplars) and 442 species and 19 lower taxa bryopsidas (13 980 exemplars).

The Estonian herbarium forms the largest part of the collection, which was primarily collected in the time periods 1945-1955, 1966-1972 and from 1988 to the present day.

The Herbarium General consists of almost 2300 moss samples. The Baltic States, Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Caucasia, Asia, Siberia, the Far-East, Africa, Australia, South America, North America and the Arctic are distinguished as separate regions. The Australian collection is large and consists of samples collected by Heinar Streimann form different regions of Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Papua and Norfolk. The South American collection consists mainly of bryophytes collected from Brazil by Schäfer-Verwimpi. In addition, there are moss samples from Panama (Nele Ingerpuu) and Peru (Leiti Kannukene). A large proportion of the Arctic samples have been obtained from the Estonian Museum of Natural History as duplicates (from Taimõr) and another part from Russia, sent over from exchange herbariums specific to various Arctic regions.

The historical part of the collection originates from the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. It consists of altogether approximately 5500 specimens: Edmund Russow’s collection of peat mosses (4237 specimens), The Estonian Naturalists’ Society Moss Herbarium (244 species), collected by Andreas Bruttan, Eugen Niclasen’s collection (149 specimens), Karl Girgensohn’s collection (925 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, curator: Toomas Kukk (tomkukk@gmail.com)
  • Herbarium of vascular plants, curator: 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 5D–208, 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)