Our Beauglehole Herbarium Finds a New Home

an example of a herbarium specimen

Cut-leaf Goodenia

Many years ago the Ballarat Field Naturalists received a duplicate herbarium from Cliff Beauglehole from his collection in the Ballarat area. A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens which may be whole plants or plant parts that have been dried and mounted on paper or card. They are a very useful reference for what grows in particular areas.

Born 1920 Cliff Beauglehole started collecting plant specimens in his teens. He was a noted plant collector and naturalist and travelled widely around Victoria identifying plants, insects, mosses and algae to name a few of his interests. During his travels he was often accompanied by local naturalists. Some of our club members accompanied him when he was in the Ballarat area.

His herbarium in 1993 was estimated at over 90,000 specimens which is a huge collection for one person to compile considering the amount of time that goes into collecting, drying, mounting and identifying the plants. He died in Portland on 19 January 2002.
In 1970 the Victorian Land Conservation Council (LCC) divided Victoria into 13 regions which were called Study Areas. The LCC investigated and made recommendation concerning land use in these areas. Cliff Beauglehole wrote thirteen books under the heading The Distribution and Conservation of Vascular Plants in Victoria, each written to cover the LCC 13 study areas.

Our copy of his Ballarat herbarium has for many years been available for use by members and was stored in a member’s garage. Recently the club decided to hand over the plant collection to the University of Ballarat. After being freeze dried to kill any unwanted insects it will be housed in a new climate controlled room that is currently under construction and will then be available to students , staff and others for scientific study.

We will still retain a “virtual herbarium” as all the herbarium sheets were digitally photographed so we still have a record of the contents. Personal plant collections need to be of a very high standard to be accepted by the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and a collection by one of our members Patricia Murphy was donated by her family in 2007 and accepted by the Victorian Herbarium. If you are interested in starting a herbarium then look at this website http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/science/information-and-resources/national-herbarium-of-victoria/preparing-herbarium-specimens

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