Collection at SQU Herbarium SQU Herbarium


Sultan Qaboos University Herbarium (SQUH)

Welcome to Sultan Qaboos University Herbarium (SQUH), located at Life Science Unit in College of Science. SQUH is the second largest collection in Oman, housing approximately 6,000 specimens. The collection contains plants native to Oman with few records from neighboring countries such as Bahrain, Egypt and Kuwait. More than 90% of the specimens are accessioned in a computerized database. The collection serves a diverse array of people to provide information on the plants of Oman in particular and the Arabian Peninsula in general. These include researchers in and out of the university, government agencies, private organization and public. The sub webpage on the vertical menu allow visitor to explore the resources available at SQUH. We invite you to browse the website and welcome for any suggestion or comments.

Herbarium Role

Plants are one of the main components of our environment and their diversity is fundamental to environmental health and successful human existence. A Herbarium, collection of preserved specimens arranged adequately to enable them to be retrieved quickly, is thus the most essential working tool for the taxonomist. Plant records at herbaria provide details of historical change. The primary data contained in preserved specimens can play important role to help taxonomists on:

Determination of a plant as being identical with or similar to another element (i.e Identification)
Determination of the correct scientific name according to a nomenclature system as per rules of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN).
Placement of a plant or groups of plants in groups that reflect close relationships on the basis of similar properties and compatible genetic systems (i.e Classification).
Plant distribution
Plant ecology by means of habitat in which they grow.
Plant uses and useful properties

Users of the Herbarium

Researchers: Herbarium collections form the main source of data for scientists involved in botanical research. Examples of such researches are preparation of identification guides, checklists and floras or description of new species or production of distribution maps. Such researches help clarify evolutionary relationships among groups of plants, aid in decision making, environmental studies and conservation of biodiversity. Moreover, herbarium specimens can be a valuable source of DNA material for molecular studies. In return, herbaria act as repository of vouchers (specimens that document the identity of plant samples) used in scientific researches for future references.
Government agencies: Ministries concerned with environmental issues and natural culture utilize the information from herbaria for management purposes and monitoring of nature reserves.
Private organizations: Consultant agencies make use herbarium resources to report plant checklists and draw conclusions required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The EIA may report distribution of plants to identify rare and threatened species and make recommendations and mitigation measures to minimize effects and environmental disturbance while developing a particular project (especially those of industrial nature).
Students: Preparatory and secondary level students visit a herbarium to gain a practical experience of what they learn as part of school curriculum regarding basics of plant classification. At the graduate level, science students use the herbarium for plant identification, class assignments and different research projects such ecological, environmental and chemical studies.



Sultan Qaboos University Herbarium (SQUH) houses a collection of approximately 6,000 specimens. The majority of the specimens are preserved as dried sheets. In addition, spirit collection is also kept primarily for the succulent species. The herbarium focuses mainly on Oman’s native species. However, as part of an initial exchange program some records were received from some neighboring herbaria. Future plans intend to develop the exchange agreement and establish new botanical connection within the Arabian region. This should upgrade SQUH to a Regional level, which would enrich the scientific value of the collection and allow more insights on the study of phylogenetics and evolutionary relationships of the plants in this part of the world. The collection is organized alphabetically by family, genus and species, respectively. The collection includes Algae, Ferns, Gymnosperms and Angiosperms (dicots and monocots). The specimen collection was built up from staff collections over the years. The herbarium also accepts specimens from scientific researches, government organizations, consultancy organizations and general public as long as they fulfill requirements as voucher specimens.

 Authentication by specialists

The identification of plants is undertaken by the herbarium staff using appropriate identification resources such as taxonomic literature and cross checking with already determined voucher specimens. Some difficult groups are sent for proper determination or confirmation by specialists in other International Institutes. Alternatively, some groups are sent on loan for taxonomic revision. After revision, updates on the taxonomic status of the specimens are expected in return.
Revised collections are:
Poaceae (genus Sporobolus)                  seen by Dr. T. Cope, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Asteraceae (genus Launaea)                  seen by Dr. N. kilian, Botanic garden & Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem
Cyperaceae                                          seen by Lorna Mackinnon, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh

Computerized database

A total of 5901 specimens, comprising more than 90% of all collection, are entered in a computerized database. The database is searchable by family, genus and species, where a specimen list is produced with collector’s name & number, collection locality and date of collection. Where available, some accessions contain images of the specimens in the field (before drying ).

External links

General Botany Sites

 International Code of Botanical Nomenclature: (
Virtual Library of Botany: (
 TreeBase-A Database of Phylogenetic Knowledge: (

 Virtual Databases

 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Herbarium Database: (
 Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Herbarium Catalogue:
 The Botany Section, Museum of Evolution, Uppsala University:
 Missouri Botanical Garden (TROPICOS): (
 The National Virtual Herbarium, Royal Botanic Garden, Jordan:
( )