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Pressed for Time

A project by: Stephen Harris


WE RAISED £21,832

from 56 donors

Unlocking the potential of plants to tackle pressing global challenges

Thank you for your support FOR THE HERBARIA!


pressed for time

Climate change and the effects of human activity on the planet have created a crisis in biodiversity and natural resources.

The legume family – the "peas and beans" – are vital for human well-being in communities around the world, providing food and fodder, fuel and fertiliser, and even pharmaceuticals. Legumes play an essential part in fixing nitrogen, improving soil fertility and water retention and reducing soil erosion - and are vital for researchers addressing key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such as Zero Hunger, Good Health, Climate Action and Life on Land.

bring our collections to life online

Plant specimens, painstakingly collected and preserved over 400 years in the Oxford University Herbaria, are a fragile, global heritage. Digitisation of this invaluable collection will secure the past; maximise access to data for researchers around the world, and protect samples for future generations. Your donation will enable researchers to create digital records, with images and fundamental collection data about thousands of pressed and preserved specimens. These will be available to everyone – researchers and the general public alike – via our online database BRAHMS.

Oxford University Herbaria contain over one million specimens, over 40,000 of which are type specimens. 25,000 of these specimens are from the varied and important legume family. Thanks to over 100 alumni and supporters we have already raised £17,700, but to completely digitise the collection, we need another £32,000.

With your help, collections acquired and stewarded over centuries will take on a new lease of life. As a thank you, your name will be recorded forever in the digitised files, as the person who enabled the record to be created.

Who am I?

My name is Stephen Harris. I am the Druce Curator of the Herbaria, and Associate Professor in Plant Sciences. For 25 years, I have looked after the dried plants, seeds and bark within the Herbaria, and also I teach students studying Biology at the University of Oxford.  

    Where will the money go?

    Each specimen costs just £2 to digitise. And we have millions of specimens. With £32,000 we could digitise the entire collection of legume samples, and give researchers access to data on specimens collected around the world, and over hundreds of years. 

    If we raise £50,000, we'll move on to other important research samples - perhaps the hardwoods under threat in South East Asia, vital to so many communities for income, shade and building materials, as well as crucial habitat for countless species of wildlife.

    We'll update you on the progress of the crowdfunder every week, and afterwards, we'll let you know what we've digitised, and what sort of research that might enable. 


    We have some unique opportunities to entice you to make different levels of donation - and remember, every donor, at any level, will have their name immortalised alongside the records their gift has created.

    be social - and spread the word

    Follow us on social media to find out how we're doing - and please spread the word to your networks. 




    Like a well-populated forest canopy, we need input from many carriers to cross-pollinate and thrive. You can help us spread the word to as many people as possible: students (teachers!), gardening friends, the local allotment club, researchers, lab and fieldwork equipment suppliers, fellow members of the JCR/MCR/SCR - anyone who might find this of interest!

    Make sure you use your unique supporter URL to encourage others to give, so we can thank our most influential supporters. You can share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, by email, on a blog - or maybe even just word of mouth.

    Help us succeed & Join our story!

    Have you used samples from the Herbaria in your research? Tell your story - and let us know, so we can help share it.

    What's your favourite legume? What species is the most hardy? Or the most economically important? Or simply the most beautiful?