The RBGE collections (Herbarium, Living Collection, Library and Archive) underpin national and international research, education and conservation programmes and are of enormous cultural value. Together they rank amongst the best of their kind in the world.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh holds three major collections (Herbarium, Living Collection, Library and Archive). The Herbarium, Library and Archive are all held at a single site in Edinburgh, whilst the Living Collection comprises c. 66,500 plants from 13,500 species across four gardens in Scotland, forming one of the largest and richest plant collections on Earth. The Herbarium holds nearly 3 million specimens with important collections across all major taxonomic groups of plants, fungi and algae. The Library and Archive holds over 1 million items including books, journals, original artworks, maps, RBGE’s official records, plant collectors’ letters diaries and photographs and much more. As one of Scotland's National Collections, all of these items are available for use by anyone that needs to access them.
In addition to the collection, RBGE has a wide range of research facilities including research glasshouses, growth rooms, molecular, cytology and microscopy laboratories.
RBGE has three major strategic objectives for research:
- Conserving plant biodiversity in the face of global environmental change and mass extinction.
- Provision of baseline taxonomic/botanical data as a foundation science.
- Understanding the evolutionary processes that have given rise to the world’s botanical diversity.
Within these are four research programmes: Major Floras, Tropical Diversity, Cryptogamic Plants and Fungi, Genetics and Conservation.
Access will be provided to:
- Herbarium collections (nearly 3 million plant, fungi and algae specimens), including over 55,000 type specimens
- Living collections with 66,500 plants of over 13,500 species
- The RBGE Library and Archive (holding over a million items)
Supporting services include Molecular Laboratories offering the latest technology to facilitate phylogenetic and population genetic research inc. Next Generation Sequencing Library prep, Microscopy facilities inc. SEM and fluorescence microscopes, Cytology & Histology labs, and Controlled Environment Growth facilities. These facilities provide the option for cytological study, or extraction and analysis of DNA using the extensive living collections. All the living collections and c. 30% of the herbarium specimens, including all known type specimens, are databased and available on our website and on GBIF. We also host a large number of online resources, including: the Begonia, Sapotaceae and Zingiberaceae Resource Centres, as well as the Floras of Nepal.
RBGE has >50 staff incorporating technical strengths in plants and lichens.