Herbarium Collection

About this collection

The Israel national herbarium is the most comprehensive plant collection in the Middle East and maintains approximately one million specimens of dried plants, chiefly from Israel and neighboring countries. The herbarium is a well-known source of information for Israeli and international researchers in plant taxonomy, systematics, conservation biology, ecology and biogeography.

Founded in the 1920’s by Alexander Eig, the Herbarium was officially affiliated with the Hebrew university of Jerusalem in 1928. The collection grew following extensive botanical expeditions to the entire Middle East carried out by the university’s botanists during the 1930’s and 1940’s. These early collections laid the foundation for the catalogue of Israel’s plants, Flora Palaestina, and contributed to the knowledge of the region’s plant diversity. In subsequent years, additional collections were incorporated into the herbarium, making the flora of Israel the best documented in the region. The 3,500 type specimens, which designate species new to science, make up the most valuable material deposited in the herbarium.

The Herbarium is listed in the international herbarium index (Index Herbariorum) under the symbol HUJ. It brings together several thematic collections, including: wild plants from Israel and the area, a global collection, cultivated plants, type specimens, mosses, algae, phytopathogenic fungi, a wood collection (xylarium), medicinal plants, seeds, a library of floras and an art collection. Acknowledged as the Israeli national plant collection, in the past three decades the herbaria from Tel-Aviv University, the Aaronsohn House, Ussishkin House and Gen-Gurion University were incorporated into the Hebrew University Herbarium. In addition, The herbarium archives documents from a long history of botanical research in Israel. Among these are photographs, slides, microscope samples, maps and original plant illustrations. Especially noteworthy are the original illustrations of Israel’s native plants drawn by Ruth Kopel and Esther Huber.

A Glance into the Collection

 A “new” Type specimen

While upgrading type specimens, Mrs. Sue Frumin searched for misplaced types among the undetermined section of the genus Anthemis.  This genus of the Asteraceae(Compositae) had been the focus of the last major research held by Prof. A. Eig, and the monograph he had written was published after his untimely death in 1938.  Prof. Eig had described many new taxa of Anthemis, all listed in his work, and many of their types came to reside in the HUJ herbarium.

To our great surprise, among the “undets” we found a type specimen with three labels attached to it, all hand written by Prof. Eig himself, with notes in Hebrew, German, Latin and English.  It took us weeks to decipher the somewhat smudged 70-year old tiny hand writing.  One of the notes was, however, very explicit: “Return to Vienna”.

A quick check in Eig’s monograph and other relevant literature suggested that this type specimen was a holotype, belonging to the herbarium of Vienna.  We contacted Prof. Vitek, head of the Vienna Herbarium, and sent him the English translation of the notes.

Few weeks later a letter arrived from Vienna: “The holotype is in Vienna, I found it in the collections. So you have an isotype. Please keep it.

Our partners

Mt. Scopus Botanical Garden:

 Jerusalem Botanical Garden, Giv’at Ram:

Collection Staff

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