Hong Kong Herbarium

About Us: History

     

Left: Hong Kong Island, North Slope, 1868; middle: same locality covered with vegetation, 1996; right: same locality, 2013
 

No historical account of Hong Kong in the 17th and 18th centuries mentioned about forest.  Most of the western observers who visited Hong Kong in those days had the impression of the Island being ”no trees, much grasses”.  Mr. Richard B. Hinds, a surgeon of the H.M.S. Sulphur, collected plant specimens of 140 species in Hong Kong in 1841 and these were the first authentic records for plant specimen collection in Hong Kong.

During the first 30 years after the foundation of Hong Kong, a number of well-known botanists collected a considerable amount of botanical specimens on the Hong Kong Island.  A number of plant species new to science were discovered during the period.  However, plant specimens collected in such period were mostly brought out of Hong Kong.  Proper curation of plant specimens has only been undertaken in Hong Kong since the establishment of the Hong Kong Herbarium in 1878.  The Hong Kong Herbarium is the first public herbarium in China.  It is listed in Index Herbarium which recognizes all public herbaria around the world.  The Hong Kong Herbarium has been assigned with its acronym- HK, which is unique and internationally recognizable.
 
Highlights of the Hong Kong Herbarium (by year)

   

Left: Flora of Kwangtung and Hong Kong (China) by Dunn and Tutcher, 1912; Right: Specimens were temporarily cared for by the Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1940

My table caption
  Column 1
1872 Mr. Charles Ford, the then Superintendent of the Government Gardens and Tree Planting Department, made a suggestion in the annual report of 1872 that the Government Garden was a fitting place for the establishment of a herbarium for keeping dried plants specimens.
1878 Mr. C. Ford reported that a public herbarium was in process of formation in Hong Kong.  The herbarium was first established with his own collection in Hong Kong and South China.  The Hong Kong Herbarium was the first public herbarium in China.
1904 Further collections were added to the Herbarium including specimens collected in Hong Kong and during plant expeditions in Southern China by the Herbarium staff. Contributions and purchases from collectors in adjacent countries in the region were also received. Mr. S.T. Dunn, the then superintendent of the Botanical and Afforestation Department, stated in the Annual Report in 1904 that "the Herbarium is becoming more and more a centre of botanical enterprise in the Far East and a recognition of this is already being shown by the increasing number of requests for botanical information from different parts of China."
1912 Flora of Kwangtung and Hong Kong (China) was published by Dunn & Tutcher, the then Superintendents of the Botanical and Forestry Department of Hong Kong, giving detailed accounts of flora of the southernmost part of China.  The work served as a stimulus to local botanical enterprise and provided a foundation for the collection of materials for a more complete Flora.
1940 The Herbarium was of sufficient international significance and special arrangements were made to send the specimen collections to Malaya for safe keeping prior to the Japanese occupation during World War II.  During this period, they were cared for by the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
1948 The Herbarium collections were brought back to Hong Kong but most of the books were unfortunately lost.  The collections were temporarily housed in the Supper Room of Government House.
1962 The Herbarium published the first stencil Check List of Hong Kong Plants which contained 1,767 species and 24 varieties of vascular plants native to Hong Kong.
1978 The Herbarium celebrated its 100th anniversary. A centenary exhibition was held at the Hong Kong Museum of History.
1989 Hong Kong Herbarium and South China Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica described Asarum hongkongense which is a new species first discovered in the world.
1999 The Hong Kong Herbarium collaborated with the South China Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica to comprehensively review the specimen collection of the Herbarium.  The Institute was responsible for organizing the botanists participated in the project.
2003 The 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Herbarium. The “Herbarium Review” project completed with two publications, namely a revised edition of the Check List of Hong Kong Plants and the picture book Rare and Precious Plants of Hong Kong. The Herbarium also began the compilation of a new Flora of Hong Kong by inviting local plant taxonomists and collaborating with a team of Chinese botanists of the South China Institute of Botany.
2007 The first volume of Flora of Hong Kong, edited by South China Botanical Garden (formerly IBSC) and Hong Kong Herbarium, was published in February 2007.
2008 The Flora of Hong Kong (Vol. 2), edited by South China Botanical Garden (formerly IBSC) and Hong Kong Herbarium, was published in March 2008.
2009 The Flora of Hong Kong (Vol. 3), edited by South China Botanical Garden (formerly IBSC) and Hong Kong Herbarium, was published in May 2009.
2011 The Flora of Hong Kong (Vol. 4), edited by South China Botanical Garden (formerly IBSC) and Hong Kong Herbarium, was published in April 2011.
Last Revision Date:  03 Apr 2014© Copyright 2017 of the Hong Kong Herbarium | Copyright & Disclaimer | Important Notices | Privacy Policy

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