Calcutta University Herbarium (CUH)

The Calcutta University Herbarium (CUH) was established in 1920 by Prof. S. P. Agharkar, located in the Department of Botany, University of Calcutta, 35, Ballygunge Circular Road, Kolkata - 700 019, West Bengal, India. It is an important centre for plant taxonomy and holds collections of specimens mainly from SE Asia, Europe and America. Plants from more than 77 countries of the world are deposited here. CUH is rich in historic collections and contains approximately 30,000 specimens of all groups of plants. The oldest specimen collected in 1779 and the specimens cover around 250 years of biodiversity. The eminent collectors are G. King and G. King’s collaborators, A. Campbell, H. Kunstler, S. P. Agharkar, H. L. Chakravarty, A. K. Sharma, J. C. Banerjee, S. K. Mukherjee, Rev. Father Scortichini (Perak), P. K. Mukherjee, N. D. Paria, D. Maity, S. Moktan and many others. The fossil specimens include quite a good number of type specimens from the different sedimentary strata of India collected by A. K. Ghosh, J. Sen, M. Banerjee, S. Bera and others. Subsequently S. N. Banerjee, R. P. Purkayastha, N. Samajpati, K. Acharya and others collected a substantial number of macrofungi from different parts of India which are currently housed in the newly erected Fungarium. In an attempt to enrich the algal section of CUH since the year 2000, R. Pal and her associates have been engaged in regular collection of fresh water and marine algae from different parts of India general and West Bengal particular. At present her group added 300 cyanobacteria and more than 600 eukaryotic algal specimens. The algal herbarium is established in separate building under CUH.

Throughout its 100 years of existence, the CUH has grown steadily through collections made by the faculty members and collaborators, exchange, and also through purchase. A representative collection of mosses was purchased from Vienna and was added to the herbarium by Professor Paul Brühl, the first Head, Department of Botany, University of Calcutta. This is perhaps one of the best collections of mosses in India. The exsiccatae, Migula’s Cryptogams (Algae, Lichens and Mosses), and Hupke Herbarium Cecidologicum were purchased and added to this herbarium. The Type Herbarium of CUH contains nearly 400 type specimens of Malayan and Indian taxa. Importantly, Spruce’s collections (Hepaticae Spruceanae: Amazonicae et Andinae) is another milestone document worth mentioning.

Through digitization programme digitized images of specimens are now freely available online.

“Herbarium is Sacred Masonry, Specimens are Incarnations of the God, Type is the Almighty, Taxonomists are the Worshipers”