The Otago Regional Herbarium (OTA) is one of a network of University and Government-based herbaria throughout New Zealand. Founded by Professor Geoff Baylis in the 1950s (Head of Department 1945-1978), the Otago Regional Herbarium is now the second largest herbarium in the South Island and the largest fully MPI compliant University-based herbarium in New Zealand. The Herbarium supports research and teaching in the Botany Department and also contributes to research more widely at the University of Otago by arranging access to New Zealand and overseas plant specimens for researchers in, for example, the Department of Geology, School of Applied Sciences and the Plant Extracts Research Unit, Department of Chemistry.
Friends of OTA
"Friends of OTA" is a volunteer group associated with the Herbarium.
Type Specimens at Otago Regional Herbarium
We are making excellent progress databasing our collection and making information available. Please visit our Type Specimens page to view images and information for more than 120 type specimens held in OTA, many of which are lichen taxa described by Dr David Galloway during his revisions for Flora of New Zealand - Lichens.
We also welcome requests for specific information about holdings.
OTA currently contains c.15,000 lichen accessions, c.10,000 bryophyte accessions, c. 3000 algae accessions, a growing New Zealand fungi collection and c.44,000 vascular plant accessions, with currently about 30% of specimens databased using the collections software Specify. The lichen collection is of national significance, as it incorporates the Thompson collection (3500 South Island lichen specimens) and the Murray collection (c. 3000 specimens, mainly South Island). The vascular plant collection includes a large number of specimens collected by Prof. Alan Mark, giving the Herbarium particular strengths in the alpine flora and the floras of Otago, Southland and Fiordland in general.
The Otago Regional herbarium is also proudly the repository for Dr Audrey Eagle’s personal herbarium and voucher specimens from which she painted her famous botanical illustrations. More information about her contribution to botany and her honorary Otago doctoral degree.
This Herbarium specimen was collected in Turkey in 1916.
The collection is an active teaching and research facility with hundreds of specimens added annually. The Herbarium is also used extensively for research by staff, students and visitors (e.g. Department of Conservation, Landcare Research) on plant ecology, morphological and ecological variability, taxonomic diversity, biogeography, the distribution and invasion ecology of exotic species, presence of bioactive compounds and plant pathology. The specimens are used in teaching.
The Herbarium is approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) as a Containment Facility. This allows us to import plant material from certain other herbaria in the world without its being stopped by Customs or Biosecurity NZ. To comply with the regulations associated with this permit, all Herbarium users must now attend an annual training session with the Sector Manager. This training is documented.
Specimens are available for loan to bonafide researchers. Loans are for 12 months only, and must be applied for in writing to the appropriate Curator.