The Bobarts' Herbaria

The Bobarts' Herbaria

Image 1. Herbarium of Jacob Bobart the Elder

Within this gigantic volume, Bobart the Elder compiled a 'hortus siccus' or 'herbarium', that is, a collection of dried and pressed botanical specimens, mostly from the University's gardens.  The volume is still preserved he Department of Plant Sciences in Oxford.  

Image 2. Herbarium of Jacob Bobart the Younger

Bobart the Younger continued this practice on a grand scale.  His library catalogue mentions two herbaria.  The mixed Horti Sicci in eight volumes remains relatively little studied.  The Hortus Siccus of 38 volumes is frequently referred to as 'Morison's Herbarium' because it is closely associated with the published Plantarum Historiae Universalis Oxoniensis of the professor of botany, Robert Morison, which the younger Bobart helped to complete after Morison's death.  Unlike his father, Bobart jr. typically mounted a single variety per sheet, as in the examples here, labelling them in Latin and English.    

Image 3. Bobart's herbarium digitized

The Bobarts' herbaria, preserved in Oxford's Department of Plant Sciences, remain an important research resource today.  As one of the oldest and most extensive herbaria extant, they are an important source of data regarding the distribution and variation of species over nearly four centuries. The 38 volumes of younger Bobart's hortus siccus has been cut up and the sheets are now stored separately for ease of reference. More recently, the thousands of individual pages have been digitized and published on an open-access, searchable interface.  A useful brief account of 'Bobart's Hortus siccus' forms the introduction a digitized gallery of the entire collection available here. Click on 'Images' , double-click and image, and open in a new window to view in high resolution.   

Related resources. This collection is described in detail in S.H. Vines and G.C. Druce, An account of the Morisonian herbarium in the possession of the University of Oxford, together with biographical and critical sketches of Morison and the two Bobarts and their works and the early history of the Physic garden, 1619-1720 (Oxford, 1914).

Student project. A similar one-volume hortus siccus is preserved in Exeter College.  Apparently contemporary with the younger Bobart's work, it is in a different hand, possibly that of Lewis Stephens, Exeter’s chaplain 1678-81.  Further detail by the Exeter College Librarian, Joanna Bowring. An Exeter student might request to obtain access and upload a few illustrative photos.