The cornerstone of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas is its Herbarium with a collection of more than one million dried plant specimens representing much of Earth’s plant diversity. It is among the largest in the United States and is the largest U.S. herbarium not part of a university, botanical garden, or broader natural history museum. Some specimens date back to the late 1700’s.
The Herbarium provides a comprehensive record of the diversity and distribution of the plants of Texas and the southern states as well as other regions of the world. That information is accessible to scientists, environmentalists, teachers, students, landowners, the business community, and the public, free of charge.
BRIT’s Herbarium, as with other herbaria across the globe, is a permanent record of Earth’s plant diversity. To that end, the BRIT herbarium serves to:
• Record the variation within a species
• Allow comparison of different species from one area (floristic studies)
• Allow comparison of different individual plants of the same species from a range of sites (revisionary and monographic studies)
• Serve as reference collections for those wishing to identify an unknown plant
• Serve as reference collections for those wishing to obtain samples for more in-depth comparisons of material, such as pollen structure or DNA sequences.
Currently, BRIT houses just over a million dried plant specimens. The herbarium has room for an additional million.
BRIT's library houses more than 125,000 volumes of books and journals from more than 100 countries. The oldest book in the Library is a 1549 edition of Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica, the medical encyclopedia that the Greek physician wrote in the first century A.D. The Children’s Library houses approximately 3,000 books.
Publication is an integral part of BRIT’s commitment to scientific research by botanists, including BRIT’s own scholars, through distribution of books and journal across the globe. The BRIT Press seeks innovation and excellence in preparation, manufacture, and distribution of botanical research and scientific discoveries for the 21st century.
BRIT’s Press publishes books, including the Illustrated Texas Floras series, as well as a biannual and scholarly periodical, Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. As of December 2010, 33 titles of books and 101 issues of the journal (27,846 pages) have been published through BRIT Press. As of December 2010, 33 titles of books and 101 issues of the journal (27,846 pages) have been published through BRIT Press.
In the first five months of 2011, the BRIT Press has published six works including: The Beauty of Houseplants, a handy guide written expressly for those growing indoor plants by British authors Tom Gough and David Longman; Distribution of Grasses in Texas, a study of scientific data on the distribution of the 721 species of grasses in the state by Robert B. Shaw, Barron S. Rector, and Amanda M. Dube. A Systematic Vademecum to the Vascular Plants of Puerto Rico, an annotated checklist of over 2800 wild plants in Puerto Rico by Franklin S. Axelrod; An Agreeable Landscape: Historical Botany and Plant Biodiversity of a Sonoran Desert Bottomland, 1855-1920, tells the story of seven decades of plant life in the Santa Cruz and Rillito valleys of the Tucson Basin in Arizona by Kathryn Mauz; Mosses of Madre de Dios, Peru, a guide to mosses in eastern Madre de Dios, Peru by Piers Majestyk and John Janovec; and Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Alabama, the first comprehensive statewide checklist of vascular plants for Alabama in over 100 years by BRIT research associate Robert Kral and eight co-authors.
Direct Media Inquiries To: