Explore the collection

The National Herbarium of Victoria includes representatives of most of Australia's vascular flora as well as algae, bryophyte, fungi and lichen collections of international significance. This immense library of botanical information documents nature’s diversity, underpins conservation and ecological research, and helps us understand how different species respond to environmental changes.

Our collection continues to grow through the collecting efforts of herbarium staff; exchange of specimens with other herbaria; and by donations of specimens from students and researchers.


Lichens are a mutually beneficial association between fungi and photosynthetic algae. This biological partnership makes them some of the hardiest organisms in nature – they can survive in environmental extremes from hot deserts to Antarctic tundra, from exposed mountain tops to dark forest gullies.

The National Herbarium of Victoria holds extensive lichen collections from all over Australia, including significant collections from sub-Antarctic islands. Among the non-Australian lichen specimens are several thousand from Europe, North America and Antarctica, with smaller numbers from other continents.

Explore our lichen collections below.


From single-celled organisms to elegant mushrooms to enormous fleshy brackets, fungi are a remarkably diverse kingdom of organisms. They play a vital role in supporting life on Earth: they recycle nutrients from plant and animal matter to sustain new life; their sporing bodies provide food for many animals; and their underground networks of web-like mycelium make it easier for plants to access nutrients and seeds to germinate.

Having traditionally been studied alongside plants, fungi are often housed in herbaria. The National Herbarium of Victoria houses a vast collection of fungi specimens collected across Australia and around the globe, from the 19th century to the present day.

Explore our fungi collections in more detail below.


The term bryophyte refers to three main taxonomic groups: mosses, hornworts and liverworts. They are some of the oldest land plants on earth – having been around for more than 400 million years – and grow in diverse habitats ranging from lush rainforests to arid deserts.

Our bryophyte collection covers a broad geographical range and is particularly rich in Australian material. Significant Australian collections include those made by early bryologists Richard Bastow and William Watts, and more recent material collected by Ilma Stone, Jim Willis, Niels Klazenga and Pina Milne.

Take a closer look at some of the amazing bryophytes in our collection.


Algae are a diverse group of photosynthetic organisms and among the earliest plants on Earth. They are found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats, and can exist as unicellular forms like phytoplankton through to large multicellular forms such as seaweed and giant kelp.

The extensive holdings at the National Herbarium of Victoria include a collection of approximately 46,000 algae specimens from all continents and oceans, which form an invaluable resource for phycologists – scientists who study algae. About two-thirds of the specimens were collected in Australia.

Explore the below gallery to view highlights from the algae collection.