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Herbarium Somdeva


Herbarium Somdeva

The students of Systematic Botany in the Indian sub-continent have benefited much from two national Herbaria located in Dehra Dun, namely the Herbarium of Forest Research Institute (DD) and the Herbarium of Botanical  Survey of India, Northern Circle, Dehra Dun (BSD). For the young and amateur botanists, Dehra Dun offers yet another  place of learning i.e., HERBARIUM SOMDEVA at 13, Balbir Avenue.

Curated and maintained single handedly by Prof. Som Deva for more than four decades, this Herbarium houses more than 20,000 specimens of Angiosperms from north India covering the Upper Gangetic Plains, Shivaliks, Chakrata Hills and various parts of Greater Himalaya. Perhaps it is one of the largest private collections of flowering plants in the country. The specimens have been largely collected by Prof. Deva himself (Field Numbers 11,343) and his students. The specimens have been neatly affixed and labeled  indigenously on newspapers which have been kept under the standard Genus and Family folders.

The arrangement follows Bentham & Hooker’s System of Classification. Under each Family of Angiosperms there are elaborate notes on the number of genera and species within various phytogeographic regions within India and neighboring countries. Each specimen bears a collection number and an index number. The index number has been drawn from Sir J.D. Hooker’s Flora of British India (FBI). For example, the sheet bearing Crotalaria mysorensis has been numbered as 50.8.21. This indicates Family No. 50 (Leguminosae), Genus no. 8 (Crotalaria) and species no. 21 given in FBI. Using this index one can easily find the reference of the species in FBI.



Pressed Specimen

Herbarium Somdeva   

         A view of reference cards: Illustrations on Corydalis spp.

One of the important features of the Herbarium Somdeva is the system of reference cards for each specimen that has been examined by Prof. Deva. The cards contain valuable information on the phytogeography, the specimens examined in DD and BSD and in many cases careful hand-drawings to aid identification of the species.

Prof. Deva has devoted a considerable amount of time in the study of difficult groups especially grasses. The grass specimens also bear detailed illustrations of florets based on microscopic examination, a feature not seen in most of the Herbaria. Any Agrostologist revising the grass flora of India would find this Herbarium a treasure house of information. Detailed illustrations are also available for Fumariaceae, Brassicaceae, Orchidaceae and Cyperaceae.

The Herbarium Som Deva is truly a national wealth that needs to be recognized and put to best use by the scientific community.

 Plant Press                                                                   Prof. Som Deva's study table

Thanks to Dr. Gopal Singh Rawat who has prepared this section and has volunteered to co ordinate and update as and when required.