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Departement Plantkunde

HGWJ Schweickerdt Herbarium (PRU)


Founded in 1925, the H.G.W.J. Schweickerdt Herbarium today houses more than 110 000 plant specimens, mostly vascular plants. Collections are mainly from the Grassland and Savanna Biomes of southern Africa, including as focal areas the Kalahari region, Pondoland, Maputaland and Sekhukhuneland. New accessions are mostly from staff, postgraduate students and collaborators involved in ecological and taxonomic research. Numerous plant identification queries from students, University staff members and the public are handled. The herbarium also serves as a repository for voucher specimens of plants used in research. The National Herbarium (PRE) and KwaZulu-Natal Herbarium (NH), amongst others, assist with plant identifications. The herbarium is computerized and a herbarium management programme developed by the National Herbarium is used. A small specialist library containing plant identification literature and an extensive collection of maps are available.


Herbarium projects form part of several second and third year practicals. Students are given specific projects to do in the herbarium. Herbarium specimens of selected taxa are examined to demonstrate the information value of such material. Students must know how to use an herbarium and how to prepare and submit herbarium specimens for identification. The herbarium is also used by post graduate students, particularly those in phytosociology, taxonomy, phytomedicine and wildlife management. Students must attempt to identify material collected during fieldwork themselves. The herbarium provides active support for a large number of research projects. Some of these are (details available on request):

  • Synecology/syntaxonomy/phytosociology/vegetation dynamics of the following focal areas: Pondoland; Maputaland; Sekhukhuneland; Kaokoveld (Namibia); Namaqualand and southern Kalahari; Association between plant geographical patterns and geology; A subcontinental survey of obligate cliff-plants or cremnophytes (notably succulents).

  • Taxonomy/palynology/chemistry/anatomy/floristics/biogeography/revisions of the following groups: Acacia (subgenus Acacia, Mimosaceae); Aloe (Asphodelaceae); Commiphora (Burseraceae); Elephantorrhiza (Mimosaceae); Hypoxis (Hypoxidaceae); Myrtaceae; Celastraceae (mainly Gymnosporia); Boraginaceae; Euphorbia (Euphorbiaceae); selected macrofungi (Gasteromycetes); flora of Sekhukhuneland, Pondoland and Maputaland; tree flora of southern Africa (illustrated field guides to the trees of southern Africa); illustrated field guides to wild flower identification; a quantitative analyses of the southern African flora to elucidate biogeographical patterns.

  • Plant utilization and indigenous plant knowledge: Provide taxonomic support for numerous research projects in the medicinal plant science section of the Department; indigenous plants used by the Vhavenda for ethnoveterinary purposes; a dictionary of common names of southern African trees in 31 local languages.


The H.G.W.J. Schweickerdt Herbarium is situated on the ground floor of the Plant Sciences Complex, University of Pretoria Main Campus.

Staff Members 


Prof AE (Braam) Van Wyk
Office: Plant Sciences Complex 2-37
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 2545 / 4784 / 5843
Technical Assistants

Mrs EP (Elsa) Van Wyk
Office: Plant Sciences Complex 2-29
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 4784 / 4044 / 2545

Ms M (Magda) Nel
Office: Plant Sciences Complex  2-32
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 4044
Laboratory Assistant

Mr MP (Petrus) Rantho
Office: Plant Sciences Complex 2-33
Tel: +27 (0)12 420 2006 / 1927


  • Mr. A.T.D. Abbott (Port Edward)
  • Mr. W. Swanepoel (Windhoek)