The Grimwade Plant Collection

Grimwade Collection Notes
Framed notes, signed by Sir Russell Grimwade,
accompanying specimens of the Grimwade Plant Collection.

In 1938 botanist Percival St John was commissioned by Sir Russell Grimwade to make a census of the flora of Mt Buffalo National Park in north-east Victoria.

St John’s census included a collection of 136 herbarium specimens, representing 133 species, collected in November 1938 and January 1939. These have been housed variously at the Mt Buffalo Chalet and at the Parks Victoria Office on Mt Buffalo. The specimens are mounted on paper with hand-written labels, including a sheet number, species name, common name and notes on distribution both on Mt Buffalo and nationally. They are stored in four folios, in a four-drawer metal cabinet.

In 2006 The Miegunyah Foundation commissioned botanists from the University of Melbourne to move the original collection from the Chalet to the School of Botany herbarium at the University of Melbourne, where it could be properly conserved and databased for future reference. Following relocation the collection has been databased, photographed and repaired; some specimens had been badly damaged by decades of public use. The identity of the plant species in the collection has also been verified/corrected using current taxonomy.

These web pages present a catalouge of the Grimwade Plant Collection made by Percival St John. They include photographs of the specimens and, where possible, photos of the same species growing in the wild on Mt Buffalo. There are notes on the common name, plant family, distribution and original identification of all species in the collection. The main pages are arranged by species name and accessed through the alphabetical index at the top of each page.

View the collection

Alternatively, you can download all specimen details from the University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU) database in Microsoft Excel format.

In 2006/2007 a new collection of plants from Mt Buffalo National Park, representing most of species in the original Grimwade Collection, was made by botanists from The University of Melbourne. This new collection includes two sets of specimens. One set is for Parks Victoria at Mt Buffalo, to be put on public display. The other set is held at the herbarium of The University of Melbourne.

A report (pdf, 1.4 MB) is available that includes a list of specimens in the new collection, together with an updated list of the vascular plants occuring in Mt Buffalo National Park.

Download Grimwade Collection report

Grimwade Collection Folio
One of the four folios housing the Grimwade Plant Collection.


This work on the Grimwade Plant Collection was carried out by Dr Alison Kellow, Dr Michael Bayly and Prof. Pauline Ladiges, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne. They are grateful to The Miegunyah Foundation for providing funds to make this possible. Staff of Parks Victoria and The Mt Buffalo Chalet assisted with re-location of the collection. Staff of Parks Victoria were also very helpful at a difficult time, during the 2006/2007 fire season, when the new collection of replacement specimens was being made. Jeff Jeanes, Kevin Rule and especially Neville Walsh, of the National Herbarium of Victoria, provided much advice and assisted with plant identifications. Members of the Mt Buffalo Field Naturalist Group, in particular Roger and Meredith Briggs, and Clyde O'Donnell, provided a number of the plant photographs used here. Members of the group also provided helpful advice and company in the field.

Wilsons Promontory Virtual Herbarium

The Wilsons Promontory Virtual Herbarium (WPVH) project was undertaken by the University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU) to conserve and digitise a significant collection of plant and algal specimens from Wilsons Promontory National Park, collected from 1959 to 1974. The WPVH was built to ensure the original specimens are readily available for public access. It includes high resolution images of the herbarium specimens, photos of the live plants in situ, descriptive information and links to further information.

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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Miegunyah Fund, Parks Victoria and the Friends of the Prom for making this project possible

Malcolm Howie Watercolours

Watercolors of Victorian Fungi by Malcolm Howie
A collection held in the University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU)

A walk in the Victorian bush in Autumn after rain reveals a vast array of mushrooms, the fruiting bodies of fungi that are only visible for a short period of time when they are above ground to release and disperse their spores. Fresh fruiting bodies exhibit a range of beautiful colours and forms, important in identifying species, including different types of mushrooms, coral fungi, woody pore fungi, jelly fungi and cup fungi. However, when dried as herbarium specimens fungal fruiting bodies usually appear drab and uninteresting to the eye – although informative to the trained mycologist and used for study of microscopic features or DNA.

Today, photography captures the fresh colour and form of fungi in their natural habitat. But in the past, paintings were made to illustrate these qualities, and our Melbourne University herbarium (MELU) has an exquisite and valuable set of watercolours of Victorian Fungi.

Malcolm Howie (1900-1936) illustrated life-size about 200 species of Victorian fungi, mostly during the period 1931-1935. Mycologist Tom May describes the paintings as "precise in form and colour and jump off the page as accurate depictions of their species".

A set of Howie's original paintings is held in the Sate Botanical Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. In addition, our herbarium (MELU) also has a set of 80 sheets of watercolours. These had been commissioned, from Howie, in the 1930's by Dr Ethel McLennan (1891-1983) for the School of Botany. Dr McLennan, a leading plant pathologist and mycologist, appreciated the accuracy and beauty of Howie's paintings. The MELU paintings, together with herbarium specimens of fungi and rare books, were on show to the public in the University's Baillieu library during 2015 in the exhibition: The Howie Fungi Watercolours: from Botanical Art to Scientific Research. The paintings have been photographed and can be viewed below.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Miegunyah Fund, Botany Foundation and the University of Melbourne’s Cultural Collections for making this project possible