The Gray Herbarium (GH)

Hibiscus specimen

In 1842, Asa Gray was appointed head of the Botanic Garden (founded by William Peck in 1807). When Gray retired from teaching in 1873, his herbarium was the principal center for botanical research in the United States. It was given to Harvard in 1864 along with the associated library, the Library of the Gray Herbarium. The collection can be searched on the specimen database.

It now contains nearly 2,000,000 specimens and is worldwide in scope. Particular strengths lie in collections from all of North America, including Mexico and the West Indies. The collection contains holotypes, syntypes, Asa Gray photo and isotypes of species described by staff members such as Gray, Watson, Fernald, Johnston, Robinson, Smith, Weatherby, Rollins, and Tryon. Exchange between Gray and J. D. Hooker, the De Candolles and others resulted in the deposition in the Gray Herbarium of isotypes or syntypes of taxa from around the world described by Gray's European contemporaries. Many early or important individual collections are deposited in the Gray Herbarium. In recent years the New World representation in the Herbaria has grown through staff collections, particularly those of Rollins, Howard, Boufford, Schultes, Wood, and Tryon, and through exchange and graduate student research.