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About the Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium (MPN)

The Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium (MPN) is located on Massey University’s Palmerston North Turitea campus.

What is a herbarium?

An herbarium is a collection of dried, pressed plant specimens (vouchers) that are used for scientific research. Specimens are prepared with archival-quality materials and are intended to last for centuries. Herbaria are used for studies related to ecology, geography, systematics, and taxonomy. 

What does MPN stand for?

Every herbaria in the world is given a unique identifier in the Index Herbariorium, a global catalogue of these plant specimen libraries kept by the New York Botanical Garden for the International Plant Science Center. This list is published periodically by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy. The acronym MPN is given to the Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium at Massey University and is a standard for referring to the institution and its specimens.

Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium collection

The majority of our collection comes from New Zealand, but there are also many specimens from around the world. Herbaria tend to be regionally specialised in their collections, thus the majority of our material is from the North Island from the Volcanic Plateau, to Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki, and south to Wellington. We currently have 40,000 databased specimens, with more being catalogued every day.

The Massey University Dame Ella Campbell Herbarium (referred to by the acronym MPN) is a member of the New Zealand National Herbarium Network  and contributes to the New Zealand Virtual Herbarium project, which aims to make specimen information available online for plant and fungal collections housed in the 11 different herbaria across New Zealand.

What are specimens used for?

Specimens are often used as a reference to help with the identification of new collections. They can also be informative as to the morphological variation present within a species, when specimens from across its geographical distribution are compared. 

Historical collections housed in herbaria can provide information about local flora that is no longer present. They can supply evidence as to when a non-native species first appeared in a region, or even how the geographic distribution of a species has shifted in relation to climate change.  Herbarium specimens have also become an important source of material for DNA analyses that aim to understand phylogenetic relationships between species, or assess genetic variation within populations of a single species.