The beautiful Broughton Herbarium is now online

Posted on by Fay Curtis.

Bonnie Griffin, Curator – Natural Sciences

Image of a handwritten page in the british Broughton HerbariumThe Natural History Team are excited to announce that the Broughton Herbarium has been digitised and is now available online!

The Broughton Herbarium is a collection of beautiful pressed plants from Bristol and Jamaica collected by Dr Arthur Broughton (1758–1796), a local physician in the 18th century. It contains the oldest specimens we care for at the museum, some almost 250 years old!

Until 2015, the four volumes had been too fragile to open but, now digitised, they’re finally available to be enjoyed and studied. As you look through the pages you can see wonderful handwritten labels, beautiful shapes and forms and important scientific specimens such as Cassia broughtonii on page 17 of the Jamaican book. This plant was named after Broughton as he was the first to discover and describe it.

You can look through the books here:

The Broughton Herbarium – Jamaican book
The Broughton Herbarium – British book


To find out more about the life of Dr Broughton, visit our online collections search.

Image of a page in the Broughton Herbarium - Jamaican book

The Broughton Herbarium – Jamaican book, vol.3, p.266 © Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives

The conservation and restoration of the Broughton Herbarium was made possible by generous funding from Arts Council England’s PRISM (Preservation of Industrial and Scientific Material) Fund, The Finnis Scott Foundation and the Friends of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives (FBMGA).

One comment on The beautiful Broughton Herbarium is now online

  1. Roy Sinclair

    It is difficult to appreciate today how important these Herbaria were to the scientific and botanical communities of the day and to be aware of the problems involved in preparing, maintaining and conserving them. They are equally as important, if not more important, today by being samples of actual plants from over 200 years ago – not just photographs or illustrations. Broughton sent some information to William Withering who produced an important English Botanical Arrangement in the common tongue (English) rather than Latin that was a standard reference for almost 00 years. Being able to see these works now so clearly and so well presented online is a privilege.


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