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The National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi
(NHBG) is a parastatal botanical institution. It is the principal authority
on botanical and related matters in Malawi. The NHBG administrative headquarters
is located about 3 km N.W. of Zomba town centre overlooking the Government
Press, Parliament, and Malawi National Examinations Board.
The National herbarium houses over 90, 000 plant specimens
(including mushrooms, ferns, mosses, algae, lichens) collected all over
Malawi and a carpological collection of about 200 accessions. The herbarium
therefore is Malawi’s plant data bank and hence is very important for plant
identification, taxonomic research, reference and loan exchange of herbarium specimens
between herbaria. Using information from herbarium specimen labels staff
at the National Herbarium can provide phenological data of most plant species,
their distributions, habitats and uses.
|The National Herbarium
history of herbaria in Malawi dates back to 1930 when the Department of
Agriculture, Division of Plant Pathology established the first herbarium
in Zomba. This was later transferred to Chitedze Agricultural Research
Station, Lilongwe. Another herbarium was established in 1956 in Zomba by
the Department of Forestry and was later transferred to Chongoni Silvicultural
Research Station, Dedza (Now Malawi College of Forestry and Wildlife).
A university herbarium was established in 1966 at Chichiri campus, Biology
Department and inherited all specimens from the Agricultural herbarium.
This herbarium was expected to develop into a broader independent botanical
institution useful in the field of conservation, botanical research, education
and technical services. The university and the Forestry herbaria merged
to form the National Herbarium of Malawi in 1987. The National herbarium
is located in Zomba with regional herbaria in Lilongwe and Mzuzu.