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Herbaria are important repositories for bio-resource information and the plant specimens therein providing a lasting record of the flora of a location or a region. Information and knowledge available in the herbaria can be effectively used for the preservation of species. More importantly, herbaria provide the archival material for comparison of species, and are going to be extremely valuable in the context of eco-physiological, climate- and global change research.

The Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES) of the Indian Institute of Science is committed to documenting plant biodiversity with a view to managing the plant wealth of the country, in particular of Karnataka state and the Western Ghats. CES houses a herbarium with a fairly large collection of native and naturalized plants, collected by several taxonomists and researchers from India and abroad. This herbarium is recognized internationally by the acronym ‘JCB’. The collection consists of more than 14,500 specimens from approximately 4000 flowering plant species, ferns and allies and lichens. The collection is richest in species from the State of Karnataka with additions from the adjoining Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Another significant collection is the several hundred specimens from the forests of the Western Ghats, an area not well represented in most South Indian herbaria. Specific groups well represented include Scrophulariaceae, Orchidaceae, Poaceae, Pteridophytes, and Lichens, reflecting primary research interests of the past and present staff. Equivalently preserved duplicates of these specimens are available in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, and in the herbarium of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA.

The basis of all efforts to effectively conserve biodiversity and natural ecosystems lies in efficient access to a knowledge base on biodiversity, distribution pattern and abundance of various species and ecosystem resources. To improve access to the resources in the herbarium JCB, we have been developing a Digital Herbarium and Database for the flowering plant flora of Karnataka, and plan to have a complete information system in the near future.

Related publications:


K. Sankara Rao et al. - Indian Institute of Science Campus: A Botanist’s Delight- IISc Press, 2009

K. Sankara Rao - Flowering Plants of Indian Institute of Science: A Field Guide- IISc Press, 2010


K. Sankara Rao*, A.N. Sringeswara, Deepak Kumar, Sandeep Pulla and R. Sukumar. 2012. A digital herbarium for the flora of Karnataka. Curr. Sci. 102 (9) 1268-1271.

K.Sankara Rao, H.R. Bhat and Y.N.Seetharam. 2012. Chamaecrista rotundifolia (Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae) – A new record for India. Rheedea. 22(1) 66-67.

Varsha A. Kulkarni, Y.N. Seetharam and K. Sankara Rao*. 2011 Alstonia venenata R.Br. (Apocynaceae): A note on distribution pattern of an endemic species. Nelumbo. 53:2011-2012.

K. Sankara Rao and Ramesh Maheshwari* 2010. Branch-branch connections in trees analogous to hyphal fusions in fungal colonies. Curr. Sci. 98, No. 2: 240-242.

Ramesh Maheshwari, K. Sankara Rao and T.V. Ramachandra 2009.Structural characteristics of a giant tropical liana and its mode of canopy spread in an alien environment. Curr. Sci. 96(1): 58-64.

Sankara Rao, K., Harish R. Bhat, Varsha A. Kulkarni and Ramachandra T.V. Mini Forest – An experiment to evaluate the adaptability of Western Ghats species for afforestation. 2011. Environment Conservation Jl. 12 (1&2) 79-83.