The collections of the Botany Department at NHM Vienna are among the most important worldwide. This results from a long tradition of botany in Vienna, in first place founded by Nikolaus Joseph Freiherr von Jacquin (1727-1817) and his son Joseph Franz (1766-1839), who recieved regular visits from such celebrities like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Todays size and diversity of the collections is due to continuously conducted expedtions and exchange with other botanical institutions. Since the collections meanwhile span several centuries, that comprise a unique and irreplacable long-term archive allowing a glimpse on the vegetation past and present.
In sum about 5.5 mio botanical objects (in the traditional sense, i.e. including Algae, Lichens and Fungi) are preserved. Of particular value are the so-called type specimens. Those “originals” serve as references for plant names, which are permanently defined by them.
The long botanical tradition and the constantly active research resulted in a number of about 200.000 type specimens from all regions of Earth. Safe this, many botanists from all over visit the NHM Vienna each year. Others borrow those specimens needed for their research.
Since 2005 the focus is increasingly on digitization. The digital representation of our object on the internet allows worldwide open access for scientists and citizens with a general interest in plants. The digital images and accompanying data are published on the JACQ platform (jacq.org) and provided free of charge. In many cases a digital image will be sufficient. This reduces the risk of damaging the valuable material during repeated manipulation as well as costs for shipping specimens or physical visits.
The collections at NHM Vienna are divided in five areas: Phanerogams, Cryptogams, Wood collection, Fruit and Seed collection as well as Spirit collection. This is completed by a comprehensive library and a lab with several microscopes, imaging facilities and standard preparation equipment.
The following equipment is particularly important:
- stereo microscope Nikon SMZ-1270i
- research lightmicroscope Nikon 80i
- iXR reproduction camera with Leaf Mamiya Credo digital back 80 MP; lens AF Makro 120mm , software Capture One
- dissection microscope Olympus SZ40 + tubus (LMscope TUST 42C) + camera (Olympus E-PL9)
- HerbScan + Epson Expression 10000XL scanner
Mag. Heimo Rainer
Plant identification possible upon request
Tissue samples for DNA analyses available for research projects with cooperation partners
Methods & Expertise for Research Infrastructure
Staff members at NHM Vienna, Department of Botany have ample expertise in description (taxonomy), naming (nomenclature), occurrence analyses (biogeography) and ecology (habitat requirements, reproduction etc.) of plants and fungi. Molecular genetic methods are used to address questions of ancestry (phylogeny) and population genetics (genetic diversity and composition of a stand). This is based on the comprehensive holdings and own field collections. Methods for gaining molecular genetic data (such as DNA sequences) are applied and advanced while the data are analysed and interpreted using state-of-the-art algorithms. In addition those methods are used to test for provenance and identity of unknown samples.