From biodiversity hotspots around the world to a collection of approximately 2 million specimens, our department seeks to discover, document, and protect Earth's incredible diversity of land plants. 

The slopes of Colombia, China's Yunnan Province, the plateau forests of Madagascar, the fields of California—Academy botanists travel the world to discover new species, collect plants for our herbarium, and contribute to our extensive botany database, which currently contains records for approximately 140,000 specimens.

With a history of pioneering action that began in 1893 with botany curator Alice Eastwood, today's department is a robust collection of leading researchers, scientists, fellows, and students. Our resources include a 2 million-specimen collection containing more than 11,000 types, as well as the John T. Howell Botanical Laboratory.  


A magnolia herbarium specimen


The California Academy of Sciences' herbarium is the largest collection of vascular plants in the western U.S. and the sixth-largest collection in the the country.

Closeup of Gaultheria ciliisepala


Learn more about our department's areas of focus—active, ongoing research that seeks to answer some of the biggest questions in the field.

Botany staff in the field on the 2014 Biodiversity Expedition


See where our research takes us, what partners we're working with, what impacts we've had on local communities, and what discoveries we've made thus far.

Botany Staff


Our researchers discover new species, explore evolutionary relationships, and address important questions about biogeography and biodiversity. 

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Botany FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting our collections, identifying backyard plants, and more.