Biodiv Sci ›› 2012, Vol. 20 ›› Issue (4): 512-516.  DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2012.05076

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Holdings of type specimens of plants in herbaria of China

Yong Yang*()   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
  • Received:2012-03-15 Accepted:2012-04-28 Online:2012-07-20 Published:2012-09-12
  • Contact: Yong Yang


Species diversity is one of the central topics of biodiversity. Type specimens are the permanent vouchers of taxonomic names, and are irreplaceable as a means to safeguard the stability of the nomenclatural system. Holdings of common specimens and type specimens are indices reflecting historical accumulation of botanical studies for a certain country or region. This paper reviews holdings of common specimens and type specimens in herbaria worldwide and those native to China. Overall, we conclude that type collections in herbaria of China are relatively less than the world on average, because plants from China were studied by western botanists for over 400 years before Chinese botanists started to collect specimens and study plants in the early twentieth century. Based on digitization of type specimens housed in native herbaria, it is now urgent to digitize not only type specimens of Chinese herbaria, but also those held in herbaria abroad. In addition, the number of collections per species in Chinese herbaria is much less than the world average. For Chinese botanical researchers, it is important to conduct investigations in poorly studied areas in China and overseas, and to enhance the overall number and representation of specimens for each species.

Key words: taxonomy, specimen, type specimen, holdings, China