The Medicinal Plant Herbarium and its role in herbal quality assurance


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The Medicinal Plant Herbarium (PHARM) at Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW, comprises a unique ethnobotanical collection focusing on medicinal plants with a use in traditional or contemporary medicine. Medicinal plants from many parts of the world are represented in the collection. Most have been collected in Australia, many from cultivation, but collections from Europe, Asia and the Americas are also included. Native Australian plants without documented medicinal uses also form part of the collection. The herbarium plays an important role as a repository of voucher specimens of authentic medicinal plant material. Authentic medicinal reference materials linked to voucher specimens in the herbarium are used in the provision of extensive QA/QC analytical services to the herbal medicine and nutraceuticals industries. The direct link between reference material and voucher specimens provides a high degree of assurance regarding the identity of the reference material, and also allows for re-examination of the voucher specimen, should the identity of reference material at some point be called into question. The Medicinal Plant Herbarium is currently in the process of digitising a large part of the collection, with the high-quality digital images forming a virtual herbarium that will be made accessible to world through the Atlas of Living Australia website ( It is also planned to make available macro- and microscopic images of crude botanical drugs on the Web.

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