Welcome to the Brown University Herbarium (BRU)

Rhode Island’s premiere collection of botanical specimens 

Home to over 100,000 specimens and an active site of research and learning, the Brown University Herbarium (BRU) is proud to be the largest holder of specimens collected in Rhode Island. The herbarium also houses specimens from all 50 US states and over 100 countries with particularly rich collections from across New England, as well as western and southern North America. The collections continue to grow thanks to the contributions of student collectors, professional botanists, community scientists, and gifts from other herbaria. 

Collections breakdown

The Brown University Herbarium was founded in 1879 when the University acquired the collections of Stephen Thayer Olney, including his uniquely rich set of Carex specimens. The Herbarium features a number of other historically valuable specimens from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including a set of Charles Wright’s Cuban plants (1856-1867), Cyrus Pringles’s plants of Mexico (1885-1909), and a number of renowned fern-artist Mary Ann Armstrong’s exquisitely pressed New Zealand ferns (1887). 

Pteris comans collected by Mary Ann Armstrong in Dunedin, New Zealand, 1887

Brown University is on the traditional homeland of the Narragansett people. Our herbarium collections come from lands of the Narragansett, Wampanoag, Pokanoket, Nipmuc, and many more Indigenous peoples across the Americas and beyond.

We respectfully acknowledge all the native peoples who occupied and cared for the lands that produced the plants in our collections.

Support the Herbarium


To ensure we're able to continue our efforts to document botanical diversity in Rhode Island and beyond, please consider supporting the herbarium with a tax deductible donation. 

Donate Online

Your donations support undergraduate research experiences investigating and documenting the ecology and flora of Rhode Island in the 21st century and ongoing efforts to digitize and catalog the collection to make it widely available to researchers around the globe. They also support the general herbarium operations, providing long term stability for botanical research at Brown.