Cover Image: Herbarium


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Member Reviews

An extremely important read for anyone in the plant sciences. Taking a look at the nature of herbaria - the people who started them, the people who furthered them, and the industries and sciences propelling them forward - gives us an exquisite view of the importance and beauty of these scientific forays into our natural world.
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This book wasn't for me. I really enjoy learning about plant biology and scientific processes, but I'm also very critical of the roles systems of domination have played in scientific history and who are considered scientific innovators. Thiers acknowledges the role of imperialism in the development and use of herbaria in one sentence in the introduction, and I don't think that gave it the weight it deserved. The Age of Exploration and colonization really expanded the relevance of herbaria, so I thought that was something that needed to be more of an ongoing conversation throughout the book.

Herbaria were primarily developed in Europe, which I didn't know before picking up the book, and as the book progressed, I felt increasingly restricted by this lens, although Thiers does discuss herbaria in 4 non-European countries (granted 2 of the 4 were still primarily discussing the work of European scientists). Thiers mentions other ways societies have studied and organized their knowledge of plants, and I wish that had gotten more time. I was very attuned to the lack of discussion of botanists of color within the United States because I know that the history of white supremacy in this country affected how scientists of color were treated and memorialized. George Washington Carver makes a brief cameo, and there was a mention that HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) had herbaria, but I think the book would have greatly benefitted from an analysis of scientific knowledge production that more meaningfully included race. 

There are helpful pointers in the back for people who want to contribute to herbaria, and it was well-written. The points about why herbarium developed, what types of plants its best suited to capture, and their practicality in the digital age were interesting. There are some nice scans of plant specimens included throughout.
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I was completely enthralled by this book. I had no expectations going into it. I saw the cover, read the title, and knew this book was going to be for me. As a former botany student, I was very interested in the history of herbaria and plant collections. This book is written in a reader friendly format and filled with beautiful photographs and digitized herbaria specimens that guide you through history. Although this book might not be for everyone, I highly recommend it for anyone who truly loves plants and nature.
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Herbarium by Barbara M. Thiers is a well documented book rich with information regarding plants. The illustrations are wonderful to look at and all photos add visual details.
Herbarium is filled with history of preserving plants so that they can be better studied and understood. 
This book was well put together and the research done to create all the information is amazing. 
This book is a wonderful collection to all my other books regarding herbarium.
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Comprehensive, incredibly readable, extremely interesting. I learned so much about herbariums and plants and the history of our quest to discover their healing powers.
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Herbarium is a very detailed account of the history and process of classifying and preserving the different plants of the world. This book is all about the importance of studying plants and preserving samples to study over time. Not only was this book a wealth of knowledge, but it was also a beautiful book with detailed photographs and illustrations. Out this November.
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A treasure for botanists, history buffs and artists.  This book tells the story of the early explorers in the field and their efforts to learn and expand their knowledge.  It is well organized, with extensive photos of important people and their work.  I enjoyed looking through it, it is a significant and well-written reference work and while I read sections of particular interest it is a book to keep on your virtual shelf to dip into as questions are raised or an impulse strikes.  I received an uncorrected galley of this book for review.
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Barbara M. Theirs'' new book, Herbarium, is a truly lovely, full of detailed photos and copies of documents from botanical societies and Herbaria. A herbarium, for those who may not be aware, is a collection of preserved plant specimens, which have been preserved for scientific study and classification. Most plants are pressed and dried on flat sheets of paper, which were often bound into books in the early days of plant collection (16th century.)
After drying, these specimens were labeled with all kinds of information about the plant - where it was collected, time and date, growing conditions, et cetera. 

Thiers outlines the history of such plant collection and collation by scientists and explorers and leads the reader to the importance of such collections in the present day, where botanists and other scientists are able to compare today's plants and their habitats to what they looked like and were they grew in the past. Work goes on even today; I was interested in this book primarily because my daughter volunteered at a herbarium and spent a lot of time cataloging plant samples. It's nice to know that she's now part of that scientific chain and has contributed to our ongoing learning, even if only in a small way.
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I'm aware that I give a lot of five stars, but in the case of this book, I learnt SO MUCH that it deserves it.

I am a brand new Horticulture student and I had no idea about any of this when I first expressed interest in this book.  Now I know so much more, including about my own country.  The Australian section in this is truly great and to put a couple of things into context, I actually live in a suburb called Banksia, near Botany Bay (Kamay) in NSW, as well as being obsessed with Australian natives.  Hugely informative and endlessly interesting, I may have found a new life's work, just because I read this book.  No joke, I want to combine my expert typing skills with Horticulture.  I'm needed!

Plus Ms Thiers doesn't shirk feminist history here.  She includes all your male colonist adventurers who stole your favourite plant, plus the women that changed this world.  A few weeks ago, I read a review for Jeanne Baret, the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, who has all been ignored until now.  That will hopefully be my next read.

Possibly the only aspect I would've liked to see would be a few more Indigenous names for plants included, especially Australian, as well as Indigenous use for those plants, if any.  Plant collection is so very colonist at heart, yet will possibly be the thing that saves Indigenous plants.  I am aware that this was not the point of the exercise, but it could've added to it in so many ways.

#Herbarium #NetGalley
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A truly facinating Book for any one who adores & loves Plants & all the amazing natural Medicines they have & can still provide us with. 
I take my Hats off to all those Brave ,some times Fool Hardy explorers who charted unknown waters sometimes as the case with Dampier a very poor Vessel in which to make those Journey's in cramped conditions for both the men who sailed on the vessel  & the "specimens they were carrying.
Plants we now take for granted & the sometimes Life saving medicines they provide us with ,were hard come by over the years by these intrepid people .
How ever some need to apologise for the destruction they caused such as the Aztec Libraries which contained 1000's of Manuscripts of Herbs & which were wiped out by the European Conquestador's.
So it proves  one of our most imported resources has been exploited since man started to develop his so called intelligence  , I do hope we will stop this now ! This is a truly amazing Book to read , for Historical interest, People , Plants & many other area's of life , we can all learn from this, ,,
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This is a very interesting glimpse into the history of herbaria, from their first beginnings to the state of botanical study today. I was expecting a little more information about the contents of the herbaria - how are they organised? who would have used them? - and while this kind of information is touched upon, the book spends far more time on the history of individual botanists and their collections, which still turned out to be very interesting. I enjoyed seeing all the inset photographs of specimens, too. Not a book to read in one go, but something to be dipped into and savoured as a history book.
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What an interesting read! I loved it all, from the technical aspects to the history to the plethora of illustrations and photos. I learned about how specimens were carefully collected and preserved for further study and how the people that carefully cataloged these specimens contributed to modern day botany. Again, really fascinating book if you are at all interesting in plant science and history.  And not too difficult to understand for a regular person like me!
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Along with breathtaking imprints, maps, photographs and illustrations, Barbara Thiers details the history of herbaria and their many roles in the world from 1500 to the present.  As a master gardener and forager thirsting to learn more, this title hooked me immediately.  

International trade has always been important but from 1500 on interest in adding new plant and species and spices developed and grew.  Transportation on ships made this possible, especially with the invention of Wardian cases which preserved specimens.

Thiers focuses on various explorers and botanists, some famous and some lesser known, and their contributions from collecting to categorizing to nomenclature to preserving.  The meticulous preserving processes used then and now from papers to glues to presses intrigue me very much.  I had no idea there were so many herbaria in the world, though I have visited a few.

It seems many medical doctors centuries ago became botanists.  One of my favourite stories in the book is about a man, Dampier, who not only documented and collected plants but also described nature including land, animals and water currents in wonderful detail.  Another story which stands out is the rescue of pressed plants from a burning building by a passionate female botanist.

Contemporary topics are discussed as well such as the environment, invasive species, pathogens, pollution, interesting fungi 
and agriculture.  

This book is extremely detailed and niche so obviously isn't geared for those with only a passing interest in plants and/or fungi.  It's more suited to those with a deeper scientific interest in this specific subject.  I enjoyed it very much!

My sincere thank you to Timber Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this enthralling book.
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Herbarium is a comprehensive reference of the history and development of botanical nomenclature as related by botanist Barbara M. Thiers. Due out 24th Nov 2020 from Workman Publishing on their Timber Press imprint, it's 304 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

The cataloguing and organization of plant material into a cohesive (and correctly identified) herbarium is admittedly exotic, academic, and (some would say) tweedy pastime. It's also deeply steeped in adventure, history, (yes colonialism), and exploration. Early explorers were hardy and fearless and raced to find and bring back heretofore unknown species. As a result, botanical material was crated and shipped wholesale (generally unidentified) back to be bought and curated into private and public collections worldwide. 

This is the story of those collectors, the materials they brought back, the people who curate(d) and maintain(ed) them, conservation, and more. The book is arranged roughly chronologically and geographically: origins, the age of botanical exploration, herbaria in the US, herbaria in the wider world, and the important future of herbaria given the uncertainties of the world today. The author has an engaging writing style, both academically rigorous and layman accessible. I can easily imagine that she's a capable lecturer.

The book is -beautifully- illustrated throughout with mounted specimens shown in situ with their accession entries. It's very much like a museum trip in the reader's hands as well as containing abundant drawings and illustrations. I work in a healthcare setting in a laboratory (cancer biopsies mostly), but seeing the photographs of their labs with climate controlled storage and rooms full of files of plant material made my bionerd-y heart sing.

There is an abbreviated resource and bibliography list for further reading, a links and informational list of worldwide botanical collections, as well as a comprehensive cross-referenced index. 

It's an admittedly niche book, but I heartily recommend it to readers who enjoy academic collections and who really enjoy seeing huge collections of *stuff* being arranged and catalogued and ordered. Beautifully done and well illustrated. Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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A walk is not truly lived unless you take a group of children with you to investigate any and all plant life found along the path.  The illustrations in this book are beautifully rendered to be used for identity purposes.  They are not the stylized pictures used to decorate your kitchen, although many could easily replace them.  We took gathering tools and envelopes on our walks...yes, one walk was not enough for our investigating...brought them back to the porch and spent many hours matching them to the book's pictures and learning so much more about the world around us.  Any age group would enjoy this book.  Just remember, the best way to enjoy it is to share with someone you love.
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An interesting book full of history and information, and with beautiful pictures. An in-depth reference book that is perfect for anyone who wants to study the subject, with detailed information from around the world. Perhaps a bit lengthy for beginners or anyone with a passing interest, but an essential book for those who love botany or work in the profession.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of this book.
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A beautifully composed book for anyone interested in the study of plants and how they are documented or classified. Not a quick read, but could be a great reference book or gift for any plant enthusiast! 

I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book provided by the publisher and Net Galley. However, the thoughts expressed are totally my own.
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Barbara M. Thiers has written a comprehensive account of plant preservation and conservation. Historical details on botanists from early explorers to modern day plant collectors with an emphasis on methods of preservation of specimens is presented for scientists, conservationists and novice gardeners. I especially enjoyed the sections on different countries and brave women botanists. While I am a huge proponent of ecologically collecting plants, “take nothing leave nothing”, these groundbreaking plant collecting pioneers discovered remedies for medicine among other important uses for plants while also preserving specimens of currently extinct or endangered plants. Modern botanists are now able to study these preserved specimens at many of the botanical and herbarium institutions mentioned in this book, while also giving us insight into a field of scientists saving many plant species from loss due to weather, environment or destructive actions by humans. This book is not a fast read, however most books with this much detail are often to be read slowly or referred to as research. Recommended for scientists, gardeners and students of botany. They will definitely find it worthwhile. Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

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I love gardening. It might be the ultimate girly cliche, but it’s true! I love trying to grow them, and I always try to keep plants and flowers in the house. So naturally, I loved the gorgeous art in this book as much as I enjoyed learning about herbaria. It was incredibly interesting to see the ways vegetation has evolved and changed over the centuries...Amazing that samples of the past have been recorded and contrasted against modern plants in this book! I especially enjoyed the vintage woodcuts and engravings of ancient plants that were included. I received this as a free e-book but I would be very proud to display this on my shelves.
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Oh joy and delight of my heart! This is a wonderful book, especially if - like me - you love plants. 
It contains a bit of everything, from history and historical significance to the importance of plant preservation, spiced up with magnificent illustrations and photographs. 
Highly recommend it if you are a plant lover or if you want to know a bit more about the significance and importance of these incredible treasures.
Many (many!) thanks to Timber Press, Net Galley, and Barbara M. Thiers for my ARC.
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