McGill University Herbarium


The Herbarium is one of McGill's earliest collections. It was founded in 1856 with the gifts of the private collections of Dr. Andrew Fernando Holmes and Principal Sir William Dawson. Holmes (1797-1860) was a well-known cardiovascular specialist and the first Dean of McGill's Faculty of Medicine. He was also a founder of the Montreal Natural History Society, and actively collected plant specimens in the Montreal area from 1820-1825. Since most of these species no longer grow in the city, the Herbarium collection remains an important record of the natural habitat of Montreal during the early 19th century.

There are several other 19th century collections at McGill, which comprise approximately 18,500 sheets of plants collected from across Canada, Hawaii, Mexico and Labrador. There is also an important series of Arctic plants collected by James Anderson while searching for the remains of Franklin's expedition of 1845. Other collections from this era include species from Antarctica, Fiji and the Falkland Islands.

Housed for many years in the Redpath Museum and then the Biology building, the Herbarium moved to the Ste-Anne de Bellevue campus in 1972 when it merged with the Macdonald College Herbarium. Combining the collections strengthened the holdings of arctic and subarctic plants. Besides its value for teaching and research within the university, the Herbarium has an active program in international loans and exchanges for research. There are a total of 135,000 specimens in the collection.


Raymond building, Macdonald Campus; pre-1900 non-North American plants are on permanent loan to the National Herbarium of Canada, which is part of the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.


Collection is for research purposes only. The Herbarium web site includes a searchable database on The Lost Flora of Montreal (not operating at moment).




marcia.waterway [at] (Dr. Marcia Waterway)


Department of Plant Science

Back to top