17 April 2021
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You can trace the development and achievements of Russian forest science in the museum complex of the University. It consists of four museums, each of them having unique exhibits: Herbarium named after I.P. Borodin.

Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union have a significant number of Botanical herbarium collections (more than 230), but only 9 of them can be ranked as the leading ones by the number of samples and their significance.

The herbarium of the University Botany and Dendrology Department is considered to be one of the largest in Russia. It  comprises 150,000 samples of vascular plants and was awarded the rank of «national Herbarium».

It’s impossible to overestimate the significance of herbarium collections for the science. According to  Lipschitz, Vasilchenko «no serious scientific work in the field of plants’ systematization and, partly, botanical geography, geobotany, paleobotany, etc., can be performed at high level, if it ignores the materials of the Herbarium».

The exact date of the Herbarium foundation is unknown. Annual reports «the News of the Imperial Forest Institute» began to be published only in the 60s of the last century and one can suppose that the formation of the Herbarium started approximately in the first half of the XIX century.

The history of the herbarium is closely connected with the history of the department of botany and dendrology. For more than 35 years — from 1869 to 1904 — an eminent botanist, professor, member of the Academy of Sciences Ivan Parfenovich Borodin (1847-1930)  was the head of  the Department.

Having retired (in 1905) he published a detailed report on his work in the «News of the Imperial Forest Institute». There one can find a lot of interesting information about the activities of the department of botany and dendrology of the time.

Both the report and the earlier work by I. P. Borodin (1893) describe the herbarium collection as consisting of two large sections: «the General Herbarium» and «the Russian Herbarium». This division still exists. The General Herbarium (world flora) was stored in a cabinet with 252 compartments and consisted of about 70 thousand samples and at least 15,000 species. Plants were placed into covers; each cell of the Cabinet containing about 90 covers (format 43X27 cm).

Not all samples have been displayed yet. Color principle was used for those not ready for displaying: the samples stored in the covers were placed on paper of different colours; the colour of the paper indicates the geographical origin of each copy. So, brownish paper was used for Western European, blue-for Asian, grayish — for American, light yellow-for African and light green — for Australian plants. This kind of color differentiation was introduced in the time of I.P. Borodin  and had not been used for the samples collected earlier. Besides that, these colors have already faded enough and do not carry the proper «signal» information any more.

In the lower left hand corner of the covers there was stated in pencil the Latin name of a plant with the name of the author (mostly by I. P. Borodin himself). For the plants of European flora under the name of the species there was stated the number under which the species was mentioned in the «Conspectus florae europaea» Nyman. For the plants outside Europe, reference was made to the «Prodromus» of Decandolle and «Flora orientalis» Boise. Initially, the The General herbarium was organized according to the system of Bentama-Hooker, later replaced by the Engler system with the reform having touched not only families but also genuses.

The following collections are the basis of the General Herbarium:

«Herbarium universale» — 3377 types 30 folders, donated by Trautfetter. Some samples are dated 1833.

«Common alphabet herbarium» in four folders, collected by an unknown author (no information about where and when).

«Iter mexicanum» 1841 -1843., gathered by Karwinski, in four large folders, 1088 species.

In addition, in the «General Herbarium» was part of a series of collections gathered in different continents:

Western Europe. Of the 32 collections that represent this region, the three largest are worth mentioning:

Baenitz. Herbarium europaeum. 1887, 1893, 1896-1900 2300 copies.

Magnier. Flora selecta exsiccata. 1882-1897, 4137 copies.

Toepffer (Brandenburg). 1882, and 1883 2217 copies America. 7 collections, more than 7800 copies.

The largest:

Curtiss. North American Plants. 1882-1887 gg. 1315 copies.

Eggers, Baron. Flora exsiccata. Indiae occidentalis. 1882— 1883., 1887 r. 1132 copies.

Pringle. Plantae mexkanae. 1886-1892 gg. 3029 copies. Asia. 5 collections-1687 copies.

The largest:

Bornmuller. 1890-1891. Only — 618 copies.

Africa. 5 collections, more than 2,600 copies of the largest:

Debeaux. Algerian plants (Oran). 1885, 539 copies.

Schlechter. Schlechterianae Plantae: Plants of the Cape region. 1894-1895 about 600 copies.

The Russian herbarium was formed separately from the General herbarium in 1885. At that time Russian herbarium consisted of only about 4500 samples. According to the inventory of 1868 it included 14 collections of various authors. By 1904, the Russian herbarium had already had 5260 species and about 40,500 specimens. It included collections from different regions of Russia:

The European Russia. 69 collections (one third of them are collected by students of the Forest Institute).

The largest:

Borodin. The Novgorod plant. 1895-1903 more than 800 copies.

Boss. Bessarabian and Odessa plants. 1881-1884, 1578 copies.

Graff, background. Ekaterinoslav flora. 1850-1860. a Few thousand copies.

Meinshausen. Herbarium Florae Ingrice. 1000 copies.

Herbarium florae plantarum diaphoricarum Ingrice (Herbarium of medicinal plants of the flora of St. Petersburg). 530 copies.

Pouring. Plants Of The Kingdom Of Poland. 1898, 1901 more than 800 copies.

Sukachev. Kursk plants. 1000 copies.

Crimea. 12 collections, the largest of them:

Golde. About 1000 copies.

Pouring. 1900 About 400 copies.

Fedoseev. Plants of the southern coast of Crimea. 1896 About 400 copies.

Caucasus. 20 collections. The largest:

Alekseenko. More than 500 copies.

Bush. 1894-1896 More than 400 copies.

Vinogradov—Nikitin. Plants Akhaltsikhe forestry. More than 2,000 copies.

Siberia. 20 collections. The largest:

Borodin. Plants of the Irkutsk district. 1902 1573 copies.

Caro. Plantae Dahuricae. 1895 g. 408 copies.

Plantae amurenses etc. 1902 442 copies.

Krasnov. Altai plants. 1883 g. 375 copies.

central Asia. 7 collections. The largest:

Berg. Plants from the shores of the Aral sea. 66 copies.

Kushakevich. Plants from Songoree. 1896 g. 194 copies.

Regel. Turkestan plants. 1886 More than 100 copies.

In addition to the General and Russian departments of the herbarium, I. P. Borodin in his report gives information about the Cryptogamic herbarium. It included collections of mosses, fungi, lichens and algae. Currently the herbarium is located in a separate Cabinet, but the material in still needs to be evaluated and systemized by experts -bryologists and lichenologists.

In 1894 S. K. Fedoseyev made up the catalogue for the Russian herbarium. The herbarium was housed in a cabinet with 252 cells. And, like in the General herbarium, colored paper was used to denote the geographic origin of the samples. Brownish-European Russia, lemon-yellow-Crimea, white-Caucasus, gray-Siberia, bluish-Central Asia. At first, the herbarium was located according to  the system of K. Ledebour, then it was placed by the system of I. Schmalhausen, later it was reorganized and rearranged in alphabetical order.

The herbarium fund was replenished in different ways: some of the herbarium specimens, as it was mentioned above, were collected and treated by students during their summer practices. In addition, the best students’ trips for collections’ gathering were practiced (Bush, Poringa and Afanasiev in the Caucasus, in the Crimea Fedoseeva, Rodda to the Urals, etc.). According to I. P. Borodin, a lot of valuable materials for the department of botany were gathered during such trips. In addition, the Herbarium was enlarged with the help of donations from institutions and individuals. The Imperial Botanical garden gave a significant portion of their doublet, the Forest society donated to the department of botany a huge herbarium of fon Grafe. Among private donations the following can be noted: Violae exsiccatae. Sh. Becker, donated by V.N. Sukachev; rare plants of Sicily Tingo, donated by F. H. Alekseenko.

Replenishment of herbarium collections was also carried out at the expense of exchange. The most active exchange took place with Yuriev (Tartus), Kiev and Tomsk universities. In addition, the annual reports of St. Petersburg Forest Institute indicate that the department of botany bought herbarium specimens and collections.

It is obvious that the most active replenishment of the herbarium collections and work with them was carried out during the period of I. P. Borodin’s work at the department of botany, as well as his assistants — N. A. Monteverde, A. V. Transhel A., L. A. Ivanov, V. I. Lyubimov. At the same time at the department of botany a number of works on the taxonomy were carried out by of N. I. Poringa, S. K. Fedoseyev, V. N. Sukachev and others.

A new stage of recovery and inventory of herbarium collections began in February 1993 as the result of the work on the collection structure clarifying. The entire herbarium was divided into five main sections: the herbarium of native flora — 135 families, 1068 genera, 51 840 samples; the herbarium of world flora — 230 families, 36 450 samples; dendrological herbarium — 75 families, 276 genera, 7800 samples; the herbarium of Salix genera and Populus — 7680 samples; educational herbarium — 9000 samples.

Dendrological herbarium is mainly represented by samples gathered by E. L. Wolf in dendrological garden and the University park.

All dendrological herbarium is stored in five cabinets with 9 cells each. Families, genera and species are arranged in alphabetical order.

The educational herbarium is intended for students’ training on the courses of morphology, systematics of plants, dendrology, elements of floristry, geobotany. It consists of two main sections: 1) herbarium herbaceous plants, 2) herbarium woody and shrubby plants. The educational herbarium is expanded due to the work of students and the Department employees during the summer practices.

Herbaceous plants herbarium contains about 60 families, 25 of them are involved in the educational process. Mostly these are plants of the flora of the North-West and middle belt of the European part of Russia. The Educational herbarium of herbaceous plants contains about 4000 samples.

The herbarium of woody and shrubby plants is represented by about 70 families, of which about 45 families are used in the educational process. The herbarium of trees and shrubs contains about 5000 samples.