NCW Beadle Herbarium

The N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium (NE) at UNE consists of c.100 000 vascular plant specimens, housed in a purpose built facility with excellent stereomicroscopes and specimen imaging equipment. Herbarium NE was the first university-only herbarium to deliver data to Australia's Virtual Herbarium and Atlas of Living Australia (c. 83 000 records from 2013). Herbarium NE is internationally recognised, and is able to exchange specimens with, borrow from and lend to other recognised herbaria.

The herbarium fulfils several major roles

  • Resource for taxonomic, ecological and other university and herbarium research.
  • Repository for scientific vouchers that underpin various biological activities such as plant classification, vegetation surveys, rare and threatened plant investigations, botanical studies, etc.
  • Provider of data for clients.

Major goals

To adequately perform the roles outlined above, the operations of the herbarium must work towards the following:

  • To ensure the conservation of historically and scientifically valuable specimens. To this end the physical environment of the herbarium must be maintained so that risks to specimens, especially from insects, fire, water and mishandling, are minimised.
  • To continue incorporation of high quality specimens together with high quality label information.
  • To continue and upgrade curation of the collection and the specimen database to provide timely and accurate information to herbarium users.

For these reasons, users of the herbarium are requested to comply with the NE policies and procedures.

Herbarium NE database

The core specimen collection of the N.C.W. Beadle Herbarium is databased and available to registered users for online data entry and for online data query.

Herbarium NE data base


Specimens are housed in two compactus units. All specimens are frozen upon entry for seven days at minus 30 C or colder. The herbarium facility is fumigated with non-residual, low-toxicity insecticide twice a year, and temperature and humidity are carefully controlled by air-conditioning. Insect activity near the herbarium entrance is continuously monitored. All these tactics minimise insect damage to the collection and maximise comfort of the users!

Collections are housed in "open shelf" or open box arrangements. This helps prevent damage that can occur as specimens are being placed into or removed from boxes. This system also allows for easier detection of insect activity, and more thorough coverage during fumigation.

Flowering plant families are arranged according to the APG3 classification.
All type material is safely stored in separate enclosed shelving, and clearly identified as type material. 'Dummy' type folders are placed in the main collection to alert users of the presence of types in the type collection.

The collection is protected from fire by a VESDA (Very Early Smoke Detector Alarm) System. In its first year of operation, this system detected smoke from a forest fire over 200 kilometres away.

Fruit, bark and other items too large to be mounted with on a sheet are kept in separate open boxes on the top shelf of the compactus; items have a separate label.

Associated collections of Herbarium NE with voucher specimens in the core collection include:

  1. a collection of samples dried on silica gel to preserve DNA (Si gel collection)
  2. a collection of samples preserved and stored in liquid fixatives (FAA, FPA, or ethanol) (Spirit collection)
  3. a collection of living material, mostly from current or past research projects in a glasshouse, shadehouse or gardens surrounding Botany (Living collection)
  4. a collection of digital images of plants and their community taken in the field, of herbarium specimens housed in Herbarium NE, and from subsequent macroscopic or microscopic investigation of material from the gathering.


The herabrium has the full range of resources at its disposal, including excellent facilities for pressing and drying specimens, and laboratories for fixing, preserving and studying material using histological, cytological, phytochemical, macromolecular and electron microscope techniques.

Loans and exchanges

To arrange a loan or exchange please contact the herbarium director - Prof. Jeremy Bruhl.

Honorary Curator

The honorary curator of Herbarium NE is Dr Ian Telford.