Botany

Botany

Our collections include:

Angiosperms: 381,400
Gymnosperms: 2,700
Ferns: 45,900
Mosses: 13,600
Liverworts: 5,800
Algae: 82,200
Fungi: 8,300
Lichen: 2,400
Wood: ~500
Fossils: ~200

We maintain a botanical library and archives including the fieldnotes from several distinguished botanists.

Numerous collections of major importance to Hawaii and Pacific botany and phycology are located at BISH, including those by:

I.A. Abbott, A.J. Bernatowicz, L.J. Brass, W.T. Brigham, F.B.H. Brown, E.H. Bryan Jr., E.L. Caum, E. Christophersen, P.A. Cox, J.R. Croft, E.Y. Dawson, O. Degener, M.S. Doty, A.D.E. Elmer, U.J. Faurie, J. Florence, T. Flynn, C.N. Forbes, F.R. Fosberg, M.L. Grant, B. Harrison Gagné, J.W. Gillespie, M.L. Grant, A.A. Heller, D.R. Herbst, P.K. Higashino, W. Hillebrand, R.W. Hobdy, W.J. Hoe, L. Horwitz, E.Y. Hosaka, T. Hosokawa, M.D. Hoyle, S.F. Kajewski, R. Kanehira, Y. Kondo, G.T. Kraft, C.H. Lamoureux, J.Q.C. Lau, M.L. Lohman, D.H. Lorence, H.L. Lyon, W.H. Magruder, H. Mann, L.H. MacDaniels, H.S. MacKee, A. Meebold, E.G. Meñez, J.W. Moore, G.C. Munro, K.M. Nagata, M.C. Neal, D. Nelson, W.J. Newhouse, H.L. Oppenheimer, K.N. Page, S. Perlman, J. Remy, J.F.C. Rock, C.J.F. Skottsberg, A.C. Smith, S.H. Sohmer, H. St. John, R.L. Stemmermann, F.L. Stevens, B.C. Stone, H. Streimann, R.D. Svihla, W.R. Sykes, M. Takamatsu, W.N. Takeuchi, P. van Royen, F. Vaupel, P.S. Vroom, W.A. Whistler, Whitney Expedition, G.P. Wilder, J.S. Womersley, K.R. Wood, H.A. Woolford, D.E. Yen, T.G. Yuncker.

The following are a selection of on-line and databases checklists for botanical information maintained by the Bishop Museum.

The herbarium is not just a place to preserve plant specimens. It is a place of active research. The Herbarium Pacificum exists to facilitate botanical research and we welcome researchers from throughout Hawai‘i, Oceania and around the world to visit and utilize our collections. Our experienced staff are involved in numerous research projects covering all areas of botanical research and we are happy to assist visiting researchers.

The Herbarium Pacificum is open to visiting researchers by appointment from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday (except public holidays). Qualified researchers will be granted permission for the use of the collection at the discretion of the collections manager. Tours of the collections are also available upon request.

Our collections are available for loan to qualified institutions. To request a loan, please fill out our online Natural Sciences Collections Access and Use Request Form.

Barbara Kennedy, B.A., Collection Manager
808.848.4181 bkennedy@bishopmuseum.org

Clyde Imada, B.A., B.S., Research Specialist III
808.848.4175 cimada@bishopmuseum.org

Kelsey Brock, M.S., Ph.D. candidate, Research Specialist
kelsey.brock@bishopmuseum.org

Timothy Gallaher, Ph.D., Botanist
timothy.gallaher@bishopmuseum.org

Roy Tsuda, Ph.D., Research Associate
808.847.8224 roy.tsuda@bishopmuseum.org

To request a back of house collection tour please fill out our online Natural Sciences Collection Tour Request Form

Bishop Museum botanists are actively engaged in research focused on understanding the evolution, ecology and ethnobotany of plant life in Hawai‘i and the broader Pacific.

The centerpiece of the Bishop Museum Botany department is our herbarium. Founded in 1889, the Herbarium Pacificum (herbarium code: BISH) holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of Hawaiian and tropical Pacific Island plant specimens including over 225,000 from Hawai‘i and 210,000 from Pacific Oceania. The herbarium also features an important reference collection of over 125,000 specimens representing species from around the world which is particularly important for identifying new plant introductions to the islands.

In 1992, the Hawai’i State Legislature designated the herbarium as the primary repository for plant vouchers in the State. Specimens of all of the native, alien, and cultivated plants in Hawai‘i can be found at the Bishop Museum, including many “last-known” collections of the 89 Hawaiian species pushed to extinction in the last two centuries. Undoubtedly, it holds further species that will never again be seen alive in nature. However, it is equally likely that the herbarium holds unidentified specimens which represent species currently unknown to science. We also receive many duplicate specimens collected from throughout the Pacific from other herbaria. The breadth and excellence of our collections make us the go-to herbarium for anyone studying Hawaiian or Pacific botany.

Owing to the legacy of Bishop Museum’s past staff and researchers, the Museum is also a historically significant resource for botanical knowledge. Examples of some of the earliest collections ever made in Hawaiʻi are located at the Museum—among them are those made by David Nelson, naturalist on Captain Cook’s third voyage to the Pacific, and the Tanager, Mangareva, and Whitney expeditions. BISH also holds nearly 12,000 type specimens.

The mission of the Botany department is to:

  1. Maintain the collection of over 700,000 living and preserved plant, algal, and fungal specimens.
  2. Curate records of the occurrence and distribution of native and introduced plants, algae and fungi species throughout Hawaii and the tropical Pacific island region.
  3. Assist with the identification of unknown plants for state and federal agencies, and other conservation or research organizations.
  4. Examine how plants have dispersed, adapted and evolved.
  5. Investigate the relationships between people, plants and culture.
  6. Educate the public and the next generation of botanists and plant scientists.

Major contributions of the Botany department and affiliated researchers include:

  • Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai‘i (by Warren L. Wagner, Derral R. Herbst, and S.H. Sohmer)
  • La‘au Hawai‘i: Traditional Hawaiian Uses of Plants (by Isabella Aiona Abbott)
  • Hawaiian Native and Naturalized Vascular Plants Checklist (by Clyde T. Imada)
  • A Tropical Garden Flora (by George W. Staples and Derral R. Herbst)
  • Survey of invasive or potentially invasive cultivated plants in Hawai‘i (by George W. Staples, Derral Herbst, and Clyde T. Imada)
  • Hawai‘i’s Ferns and Fern Allies (by Daniel D. Palmer)
  • Marine Green and Brown Algae of the Hawaiian Islands (by Isabella Aiona Abbott and John M. Huisman)
  • Marine Red Algae of the Hawaiian Islands (by Isabella Aiona Abbott)
  • Bibliographic Catalogue of the Marine Benthic Algae in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) (by Roy Tsuda)
  • Numerous other books and scientific articles

Be a Part of Our Story

Celebrate the extraordinary history, culture, and environment of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific with a gift to Bishop Museum. As a partner in the Museum’s work, you can help to sustain vital collections, research, and knowledge, and inspire exploration and discovery with a tax-deductible donation.