University of Gothenburg
Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist

Herbarium GB

Herbarium GB is a common research infrastructure at the University of Gothenburg, located at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. It has a large collection of dried plants, fungi, algae etc. for comparative and evolutionary studies.

The history of our herbarium dates back to late 18th century. At that time, the first collections formed a part of a “Naturalie Cabinet” that belonged to the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg. In 1926, the Botanical Garden, with Carl Skottsberg as director, took over the herbarium from the Göteborg museum. In 1961, when the University of Gothenburg established a botanical institute, the collections were transferred to this institute. Since 1995, the herbarium is located in the premises of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and in 2015 it became a research infrastructure at University of Gothenburg.

The collections amount to approximately 1.1 million specimens. Nearly 750 000 of these are vascular plants, whereas the remaining 350 000 specimens belong to bryophytes, algae, fungi, lichens, and slime molds. The collections reflect to a large extent the research that is currently carried out, or has been carried out, at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

The vascular plants comprise extensive collections from the Nordic countries, as well as other important collections from the Middle East, the Mediterranean area, and tropical South America. The latter collection mirrors more than 50 years of research activities in South America, in particular in connection to the Flora of Ecuador project. Although most vascular plant families in South America are present in the collections the following are particularly well represented: Asteraceae, Cyclanthaceae, Heliconiaceae, Marantaceae, Rubiaceae, and Scrophulariaceae s.l. Of the non-vascular plants, the fungal collection is the largest and has about 100 000 specimens, most of which are basidiomycetes from Northern Europe. The majority are wood-decaying resupinate and bracket fungi. Within the Euagarics, we host representative collections of Psathyrellaceae, Hygrophoraceae, Lycoperdaceae, Inocybaceae, Russulales, and Boletales.

Research in Herbarium
Photo: Anna-Lena Lundqvist


The herbarium has about 1.1 million specimens. The collections comprise all major groups of land plants (bryophytes and vascular plants), as well as algae, fungi, lichens, and slime molds. The range of the collections is worldwide, but our holdings from the Neotropics and the Nordic countries are especially noteworthy.

The collections are described in more detail under the respective group.


The algae collection comprises approximately 20 000 specimens, and about half of these have been collected in Sweden. The most important collections include those by Tore Levring, Erik Jaasund, Tore Wennberg, and Athanasios Athanasiadis.

Tore Levring has provided about 5 000 specimens to our herbarium, and many of these have been collected around islands of the southern hemisphere as Juan Fernández, Kerguelen, Crozet Islands, and Rennell Island. Tore Levring has written a large number of papers on algae, and described about 70 new species. Forty of his types are deposited in Herbarium GB.

The collections of Erik Jaasund amount to about 1 000 specimens, most from northern Norway and Tanzania. He has written a field guide to the algae in Tanzania, Intertidal seaweeds in Tanzania: a field guide, and a checklist of marine species in northern Norway, Aspects of the marine algal vegetation in North Norway. Erik Jaasund has described 21 new taxa, and five of their types are found in our herbarium.

Tore Wennberg has collected about 2 500 specimens, most of them along the west coast of Sweden and Norway, but also along the coasts of Helgoland, Ireland, Madeira, and Australia.

Athanasios Athanasiadis is the only red algae systematist in Sweden. He has made collections of algae in the Mediterranean, and in the waters of Canary Islands and Puerto Rico, and has described about 40 taxa of red algae.

The fungal collection at Herbarium GB has about 100 000 specimens. The majority are basidiomycetes from the Nordic countries, and only a minor part is ascomycetes. About two thirds of the collection constitutes wood decaying corticioid and bracket fungi, while the rest are primarily cap fungi and other groups within the Agaricales.

Mycologists at University of Gothenburg
John Eriksson (1921–1995) completed his PhD at Uppsala University in 1958. His thesis dealt with the diversity and systematics of corticioid and bracket fungi collected in Muddus National Park in northern Sweden. He came to University of Gothenburg in 1961 and soon built up a research group. Together with Leif Ryvarden (University of Oslo), he started Corticiaceae of North Europe, a series of eight book volumes for determination of corticioid fungi that was published from 1972 to 1988. Kurt Hjortstam and Karl-Henrik Larsson are co-authors on the last volumes. John Eriksson has described 16 new genera and 55 new species, and has made 199 new combinations.

Kurt Hjortstam (1933–2009) was an amateur botanist who was inspired by John Eriksson to study corticioid fungi. Kurt Hjortstam quickly developed a deep knowledge on corticioid fungi, not only from northern Europe but also from tropical South America and Africa. He was hired by the University of Gothenburg to participate in the publishing of Corticiaceae of North Europe for a few years in the 1990s. After that, he worked for a shorter period as curator at Kew's herbarium in London. He was one of the world’s leading corticiologists, and described 54 new genera and 181 new species.

Nils Hallenberg (b. 1947) is one of John Eriksson's students, and he defended his thesis in 1981 on wood-inhabiting fungi of Iran. Later, he developed a culture collection of wood decaying fungi and conducted mating tests to study species limits. Part of the culture collection has been deposited at Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute (CBS-KNAW) in the Netherlands, but the basidiomata from which the cultures were isolated are preserved at Herbarium GB. Nils Hallenberg was also interested in problems related to mould and rot in houses. In collaboration with SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden (now RISE), he started the consulting company “Applied Wood Mycology”.

Karl-Henrik Larsson (b. 1948) is also a student of John Eriksson's, and he collaborated closely with Kurt Hjortstam for many years. Karl-Henrik Larsson defended his PhD thesis on the genus Trechispora in 1992. After his dissertation, he continued to study corticioid fungi from all over the world using morphological and molecular data. His phylogenetic analyses based on DNA data has contributed to the understanding of the relationships among the basidiomycetes. Currently, he is professor at the University of Oslo and in charge of the fungal collections at the Natural History Museum.

Stig Jacobsson (b. 1938) defended his PhD thesis on the genus Pholiota at University of Gothenburg in 1992. He has developed a considerable general knowledge of Agaricales, and has to a large extent contributed to the fungal collection at Herbarium GB. In addition to the genus Pholiota, he is especially interested in the genera RussulaHygrophorus, and Inocybe. Stig Jacobsson has also worked with identification of mould and wood-rotting fungi in houses.

Important donations to Herbarium GB
Tore Nathorst-Windahl (1886–1972) was director of the Gothenburg Botanical Garden from 1916 to 1951. He became known as a mycologist when he participated in the fungal exhibitions arranged by the local daily newspaper, and he was one of the founders of Gothenburg Mushroom Club in 1965. Tore Nathorst-Windahl has contributed with more than 2 300 fungi to our herbarium.

Filip Karlvall (1891–1971) has contributed with about 9 500 specimens of fungi to Herbarium GB. He was co-founder of Gothenburg Mushroom Club in 1965.

Leif and Anita Stridvall made many thorough inventories of mushrooms in the forests of western Sweden from the 1980s and onwards, and in 2010 they donated their unique collection of ca 7 500 specimens to Herbarium GB.

Västgötabergens Mushroom Society donated their collection to Herbarium GB in 2015. They had for many years built up their own herbarium of plants and fungi (including lichens) to document species occurring in the limestone-rich areas around Skövde, Falköping, Gullspång, and Kinnekulle. The collection comprises some 3 000 specimens.

The lichen collection of Herbarium GB has been built up over a long period. It holds approximately 90 000 specimens including 160 types. Several hundred Swedish and foreign lichenologists have contributed to the collection, which is the fourth largest in Sweden. The oldest material once belonged to the Royal Society of Arts and Sciences in Gothenburg, but was transferred in 1861 to the newly formed Gothenburg Museum.

Early years
The earliest collections were made by Olof Swartz (1760–1818) on his journey to the West Indies (1784–86). Other early collections were made in the first decades of the 1800s in Norway and Lapland by Göran Wahlenberg. Among the most passionate collectors from the late 1800s are Pehr Johan Hellbom (1827–1903) and Johan Hulting (1842–1929), who also described new lichen species which types can be found in our herbarium. Other notable collectors from this time that made contributions to Herbarium GB include Olof Blomberg, Karl Forssell and Thore Fries. From the first half of the 1900s, the majority of our collections were made by Hugo Magnusson (see below), Carl Stenholm, the brothers Sixten and Carl Bergström (who have contributed many thousands of specimens), and Erik Vrang. Other well-known lichenologists who are represented in our collection are Einar Du Rietz and Gustav Malme.

Recent years
In the recent years, Lars Arvidsson’s collection of approximately 10 000 specimens has been included in the herbarium, as well as a collection from Borås of more than 3 000 specimens. Other recent material is collected by Sven Bergqvist (lichens from Sotenäset), Yngve Eliasson (rock-growing marine lichens), Vilhelm Gillner, Svante Hultengren, Marie Lindström (lichens from South America and West Indies), Per-Olof Martinsson, Dan Nilsson, Björn Nordén, Ingvar Nordin, Leif & Anita Stridvall and Staffan Wall.

Three lichenologists
Hugo Magnusson (1885–1964) worked for many years as a teacher in Göteborg. He was a very keen collector of lichens, and built up his own herbarium of more than 70 000 specimens, of which the majority now are found in Uppsala. However, a large number of specimens (including types) were donated to Herbarium GB. His main interest was crustose lichens, and he became a world-authority on this subject. Hugo Magnusson described ca 900 species, and for his achievements he received a honorary doctorate at Uppsala University in 1932.

Gunnar Degelius (1903–1993) defended his thesis on the oceanic lichens in Scandinavia in Uppsala in 1935. He moved to Gothenburg in 1955 to work at the Botanical Garden and the herbarium. He was lecturer in systematic botany at the former Botanical Institute from 1962, and in 1965 he became professor. Gunnar Degelius was one of the foremost Swedish lichenologists, and worked on lichen taxonomy (e.g. on the genus Collema) as well as on species distributions and ecology. Most of his collections are found in Uppsala, but our herbarium holds a large number of duplicates. Gunnar Degelius described 171 new lichen species and varieties.

Lars Arvidsson (b. 1949) defended his taxonomic thesis on the genus Coccocarpia and related lichens. Between 1970 and 1984 he taught systematic botany, and between 2010 and 2016 he was adjunct professor of cryptogamic botany and nature conservation. Lars Arvidsson has, among other things, been involved in writing all seven Swedish Red Lists that were published 1987–2015. He has described one new lichen genus (Degelia) and nearly 30 new species, and has made a number of new combinations. Lars Arvidsson’s collections come from Ecuador, Scandinavia, Svalbard, Wales, Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Azores.

The collection in Herbarium GB comprises about 9 000 specimens and is one of the largest collections in northern Europe. The oldest specimens stem from Otto Jaap’s collection from Central Europe in the early 1900s. A small number of specimens taken by Carl Skottsberg in the Juan Fernández Islands are of special interest due to their origin. Harold Keller´s collection from different parts of the United States has been donated to Herbarium GB, and comprises about 2 200 specimens. Uno Eliasson´s collections amount to about 5 500 specimens, and are the bulk of the slime mould collection. The majority originate from Sweden, and include material from a 4-year field study in a conifer forest area in the province of Västergötland, a study published in Holarctic Ecology, vol. 4 (1981). Uno Eliasson´s collections from Hawaii may be the largest in the world from this archipelago and are part of the Hawaii Biological Survey. Collections have also been brought together from other parts of the world, such as mainland United States, Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands, and Cuba.

What is an acellular slimemould?
Acellular slime moulds, also called myxomycetes or plasmodial slime moulds, are an early evolutionary lineage among amoeboidal organisms which is different from the branch from which fungi and animals evolved. The life cycle consists of a motile stage, a plasmodium, that develops into spore-producing fruitbodies. Most species have small fruitbodies (ca 1–10 mm). They occur all over the world and in all biotopes, and about 1 000 species have been recognized so far. The largest diversity is found in temperate regions, but they are found in hot desert areas as well as in arctic regions. Some species are adapted to development under a snow layer.

Acellular slime moulds are collected in the fruiting stage with a piece of the substratum, and glued to the bottom of a box to prevent damage to the fragile fruitbodies. Dried-up plasmodia that have formed a resting stage are rarely identifiable to species, but may be revived if rewetted, even after several decades. Very small fruitbodies (0.1 mm or less) may be preserved as microscope slides.

The bryophyte collection comprises approximately 130 000 specimens, of which the majority have been collected in Sweden. Many specimens are relatively old and collected in the 1800s or in the beginning of the 1900s. Captain Carl Stenholm was one of the most important collectors at that time, and he collected more than 5 000 specimens. The herbarium also holds 5 500 collections by Sven Fransén from Sweden, Norway and Ecuador. Other important collectors include Sigfrid Arnell, Carl and Sixten Bergström, and Johan Emmanuel Zetterstedt, all who have collected more than 1 000 specimens.

The vascular plants collection comprises approximately 750 000 specimens and is the largest of the collections in Herbarium GB. The collection is subdivided in the Nordic, the South American, and the General herbarium.

The Nordic herbarium
The Nordic collection comprises ca 250 000 specimens, many collected in western Sweden. The collection has been important for many provincial flora projects in Sweden, not least the floras of Bohuslän, Halland, and Västergötland, and for the ongoing work of the Flora Nordica project. Carl Blom's (1885–1978) collection of 35 000 specimens is unique. His contribution to the herbarium started already at young age and his last collections were made only a few years before he passed away. He was particularly interested in adventitious plants, and has allegedly found more than 100 new species for Sweden. Agne Wennerberg's nearly complete collection of native vascular plants is also noteworthy.

The South American herbarium
The South American collection reflects the research that is carried out at the department. It comprises approximately 100 000 specimens, many gathered in connection to the Flora of Ecuador project that was initiated by Gunnar Harling and Benkt Sparre in 1968. Gunnar Harling's own research was focused on the Asteraceae and Cyclanthaceae, but he also made general collections and has contributed with about 20 000 specimens. The herbarium also holds special collections made by researchers and PhD students at our department: Lennart Andersson (Heliconiaceae, Marantaceae, Rubiaceae), Alexandre Antonelli (Lobeliaceae, Rubiaceae), Jan-Erik Bohlin (Nyctaginaceae), Uno Eliasson (Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae), Bente Eriksen (Polygalaceae, Valerianaceae), Roger Eriksson (Cyclanthaceae), Claes Gustafsson (Rubiaceae), Mats Hagberg (Marantaceae), Ulf Molau (Calceolariaceae, Orobanchaceae, "Scrophulariaceae"), Claes Persson (Rubiaceae), Johan Rova (Rubiaceae), and Bertil Ståhl (Symplocaceae, Theophrastaceae). Uno Eliasson’s general collections from the Galápagos Islands, which he visited three times in the 1960s, are also notable.

The General herbarium
The general collection comprises approximately 350 000 specimens from all areas except the Nordic countries and South- and Central America. Carl Skottsberg, who founded the herbarium, and led the work to build the Botanical Garden in Gothenburg, is probably the botanist who has provided most specimens to this collection. He made a large number of expeditions to remote countries, and his travels to Antarctica, Tierra del Fuego, Chile, the Galápagos Islands, the Juan Fernández Islands and Easter Island are well known. He also made extensive collection journeys to other parts of the world such as Algeria, Tunisia, Australia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, USA, and Canada. During his time in Gothenburg, he collected ca 15 000 specimens. Carl Skottsberg was also responsible for Herbarium GB's largest accession of plants when he in 1929 bought August von Hayek's collection from his heirs in Vienna. This collection consists of 90 000 specimens, from Austria, the NW Balkan peninsula and the Middle East. Other often consulted collections are made by Per Wendelbo (ca 1 000 specimens of bulbous plants from Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey), Bengt Oxelman (Caryophyllaceae), Magnus Lidén (Papaveraceae), and Karin Persson (bulbous plants from the Mediterranean area).

Historical collections
Even if Herbarium GB is relatively young, and most collections have been made in the 1900s, the herbarium also holds historically valuable collections. A specimen collected by Carl von Linné is most probably the oldest in our herbarium. It consists of three stems of Festuca rubra (Poaceae), from Kungsängen in Uppsala. The collection was probably made in the 1740s, but the exact date is lacking. The specimen was selected as lectotype by Jarvis et al. in 1987.

Flora Käralundensis from 1780 is our oldest cohesive plant collection. It comprises 668 vascular plants collected by the amateur botanist Carl Leonhard Kilborg at Kärralund's estate in the district of Örgryte, Göteborg.

Other noteworthy specimens in our herbarium are collected by Joseph Banks and Linnaeus' disciple Daniel Solander on their journey with Captain Cook to the Pacific Ocean 1768–1771. These are Anguillaria bahamensis (Colchicaceae) collected at a stop on Madeira in 1768, Empetrum rubrum (Ericaceae) collected in Tierra del Fuego 1769, and Evolvulus decumbens (Convolvulaceae) and Placus solandri (Asteraceae) collected in Australia 1770.


The collections at Herbarium GB holds approximately 1 100 000 specimens, of which ca 250.000  (March 2023) are registered so far and searchable in public databases. These can be found at the following sites:

Sweden’s Virtual Herbarium is a joint collaboration by the largest herbaria in Sweden which offers a searchable database of all registered specimens, some also as images. Our collections mainly comprise vascular plants, bryophytes, fungi, lichens, algae, and slime molds.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) offers access to worldwide biodiversity data, and has records from collections of all groups of organisms as well as of observational data.

JSTOR Global Plants have high-resolution images of all our registered type specimens. This is a result of our participation in the Global Plant Initiative, a worldwide project aiming at increasing the availablity of type specimens through digitization.


Registration of selected groups is taking place since 2006, with financial support from the Swedish Taxonomy Initiative at the Swedish Species Information Centre. Original label data is entered into a local database that is later transferred to the public databases. The type specimens are also scanned as high-resolution images. The digitization equipment is also used for sending digital loans, because often a good image will suffice instead of sending the material away.

Organism groups

Most of the specimens are registered for fungi (ca 90 000 specimens) and slime molds (ca 5 500 specimens). Other groups are only partly registered, as, e.g., 66 000 specimens of vascular plants. From a Nordic perspective, the majority of our collections of pteridophytes, liverworts and macroscopic algae (charophytes, brown algae, and red algae) are registered, and so are selected groups of Nordic and Neotropical flowering plants.

Type specimens

Currently, ca 90% of our types (ca 2 800 specimens) are digitized with label data and high-resolution images. The types of fungi (excluding lichens), bryophytes and slime molds are not yet fully digitized.

Loans and visits

The collections of Herbarium GB are available for researchers and students engaged in systematic and taxonomic research. The material may be accessed either by visiting the herbarium or by requesting a loan. We also offer guided tours for the general public, such as school classes and other groups interested in botany.

Visit Herbarium GB

If you would like to pay a visit to our herbarium to study our material, or for a guided tour, please contact the director Claes Gustafsson:


How to borrow material

If you are interested in studying material from Herbarium GB, please first read our Loan conditions (see below) and our Destructive sampling policy (see below). Then contact the director of the herbarium, Claes Gustafssonat (vascular plants, bryophytes, algae, slime molds), or the senior curator Ellen Larsson at (fungi, lichens).

All requests should be made by the curator or the director of an institution and should include the following information:

• name of researcher
• nature of the study
• taxa requested (incl. synonyms)
• basionym of any type specimens requested
• geographical distribution of specimens requested (e.g. continent, region, or country)

How to find us

Herbarium GB and the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences are found in the newly built house named "Natrium", close to Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

Visiting address 
Medicinaregatan 7B 
SE 413 19 Göteborg
The entrance to the house is roughly in the middle of Medicinarelängan and can be reached via the Salt & Syra restaurant

Postal address (for packets over 2 kg)
Medicinaregatan 19
SE 413 90 Göteborg
(If a loading dock is needed, it is Medicinaregatan 17)

Postal address (for letters and small packets less than 2 kg)
Box 463
SE 405 30 Göteborg


The large collections of the herbarium have been used over the years in a large number of research projects around the world. During the 20th century the material was primarily used for revisions and species descriptions. However, in the past decades the material has become increasingly more important for molecular studies. The material is used by researchers at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, as well as by researchers at other Swedish and, above all, foreign institutes.


During the nearly 100 years of our herbarium’s existence, hundreds of revisions have been made and thousands of articles have been written based on our collections. The downloadable PDF file below contains a list of 680 national and international articles that were published between 2010 and 2019 where collections from the herbarium have been used.

Download Publications 2010–2019

Herbariet publ 2010-2019 (PDF)

Associated staff

Active researchers and doctoral students employed at or associated with the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, are listed below.

Antonelli, Alexandre, professor
Athanasiadis, Athanasios, associated researcher
Arvidsson, Lars, lichenologist
Bacon, Christine, postdoctoral research fellow
Cangren, Patrik, doctoral student
Dahl, Åslög, researcher
Daun, Robert, research engineer
Eliasson, Uno, professor emeritus
Eriksson, Roger, researcher
Fransén, Sven, bryologist
Jacobsson, Stig, mycologist
Ljungstrand, Erik, botanist
Moiloa, Ntwai, PhD Student
Molau, Ulf, professor
Nilsson, Henrik, senior lecturer
Oxelman, Bengt, professor
Quatela, Anne-Sophie, PhD Student
Rova, Johan, botanist
Svantesson, Sten, PhD
Testo, Weston, postdoctoral research fellow


Herbarium GB collaborates with a number of national and international institutions whose aim are to improve the accessibility of biological collections and promote their importance for research.

Swedish Species Information Centre accumulates, analyses and disseminates information concerning biodiversity in Sweden. The Centre also provide financial support for natural history collections and is the herbarium's principal external financial supporter over the past 15 years.

The CETAF network comprises 34 members representing 60 of the largest European taxonomic institutions. CETAF aims to promote training, research and understanding in systematic biology, and inform about collections and expertise among its member institutions across Europe. Since 2012, Herbarium GB forms a West Swedish CETAF node, Gothenburg Consortium for Taxonomic Facilities (GTCF) together with Gothenburg Botanical Garden and The Gothenburg Museum of Natural History.

Global Plants Initiative (GPI) is an international project with the purpose to make available images of type material from all over the world. Types are extra important specimens that serve as references for names of species and other taxa. Herbarium GB has, with financial support from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, scanned almost 3000 specimens within this project. All data and images are brought together and published by JSTOR Global Plants.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international research infrastructure whose mission is to make worldwide biodiversity data freely available. There are about 50 GBIF nodes that gather information in a database searchable via a web portal. GBIF-Sweden, located at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, gathers and forwards data about specimens and observations from Swedish natural history museums, herbaria and research centres. Almost 160 000 registered specimens from Herbarium GB can be found in the GBIF database.

Herbarium GB is one of 13 collaboration partners of Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre (GGBC). The centre aims to link science and society around biodiversity, and enhance and accelerate biodiversity research through four pillars: exploration, education, research, and preservation. The centre is hosted by University of Gothenburg.

SAMSA is a working group within NAMSA, a co-operation organisation of Swedish natural history museums, which was formed in 2003. One of the main tasks of SAMSA is to co-ordinate the national development and identify needs for institutions with natural history collections.


Herbarium GB is since April 2015 a research infrastructure at University of Gothenburg, and is hosted by the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Steering committee
Bengt Oxelman, professor, chair, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Claes Gustafsson, director of the herbarium, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Catarina Rydin, director, Bergius Botanic Garden, Stockholm
Magnus Gelang, senior curator, The Gothenburg Museum of Natural History
Niklas Wahlberg, professor, Lunds University

Adjunct member
Ellen Larsson, senior curator, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences