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BLATTER HERBARIUM, (BLAT)

St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, INDIA :


A herbarium is a museum or storehouse for pressed and dried plant materials mounted on sheets and filed in a systematic order for reference purposes. A herbarium is established through the efforts of teams of enthusiastic, selfless and dedicated botanists....

 

Blatter Herbarium is an internationally recognized herbarium for Taxonomic studies and allied branches in Botany. It was established in 1906 in St. Xavier's College, Bombay, by the Jesuit Priest - Rev. Fr. E. Blatter. In 1941, it was named, "The Blatter Herbarium" by Rev. Fr. H. Santapau, who served as its director for many years. Fr. Santapau later became the Director of the Botanical Survey of India at Calcutta. He was awarded the `Padmashri' by the Government of India and the `Birbal Sahani Medal' by the Indian Botanical Society in 1964 for his services to Indian botany. BLAT is one of the best herbarium among all the herbaria in India and it is listed in the Index Herbariorum published from KEW - Royal Botanic Gardens.

 

Collections:

BLAT is the only herbarium in India which holds collections of Algae, Fungi, Bryophytes, Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms and flowering plants. The flowering plant collections range from the year 1816 onwards, and a total of 3,00,000 plant specimens including Grasses, Sedges, Orchids, and other flowering plants collected from various parts of India such as Kashmir, Himalayas, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, Rajasthan, Konkan, Western Ghats, Khandala, Mahableshwar, Poona, Ratnagiri, Savantwadi, Goa, Nasik, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Lucknow and Bombay are housed in this Herbarium. Besides these, specimens from Sind, Arabia, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, other European countries, and Japan, obtained on exchange basis, add to the bulk of the Herbarium. In addition to these collections, about 400 Type materials of the plants discovered as new species are maintained in this herbarium. All these form reference materials for research and other studies.

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Facilities in the Herbarium:

Attached to the Herbarium, there is a library containing literature on Taxonomy and related subjects, dating from the 15th century - "Coloquios dos Simples e drogas he da India" by Garcia D'Orta, the first book printed in India (1563), The Hortus Malabaricus by Van Rheede (1678) - to the 20th century, and a number of International Journals such as Taxon, Kew Bulletin, Candollea, and Indian Journals such as Indian Forester, Bulletin of Botanical Survey of India and Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society.

Collections of wood samples, seeds, fruits, and other natural products from plants having medicinal properties are preserved in a museum attached to the Herbarium. The museum also holds pickled specimens of Algae, Fungi, and Lichens.

 

 

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Usage of Herbarium:

The Blatter Herbarium is constantly used by various categories of people, such as Scientists, Naturalists, Environmentalists, Pharmacists, Medical doctors, Journalists, Teachers, Tourist-guides and students of various subjects from schools and colleges from India and abroad for their studies and research. People from various organizations such as Forestry, Educational Institutions, Natural History, Oceanography, and Pharmaceuticals consult the staff of the Blatter Herbarium for guidance and assistance pertaining to the identification of plants, and plant products, and the distribution and availability of plants in various localities, uses of plants, and other related matters.

Due to facilities available in the Department, one can also register here for M.Sc. or Ph.D. degree in Botany (University of Bombay) by research.

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Achievements of the Herbarium :

About 500 scientific articles and a number of scientific books such as The Flora of Aden, Arabia; Beautiful Flowers of Kashmir; The Bombay Grasses; Palms of Asia; Orchids of Bombay; Medicinal and Poisonous plants of India; Flora of Khandala; Acanthaceae of Bombay, and Trees of Bombay are some of the contributions of Rev. Fr. E. Blatter and Rev. Fr. H. Santapau, the pioneer scholars in Taxonomy of this institution.

 The present Director Dr. S.M. Almeida, published `The Flora of Savantwadi - the sector of Western Ghats' in 1990, which incorporates 1685 flowering plants and ferns. She has discovered nine new species, 5 new varieties and about 75 new records to Maharashtra. About 30 scientific papers have been published by her in various journals.

 More than 50 people have received their M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from this institution. Some of the eminent scholars such as

 

 The Department has undertaken a number of projects at the national level of which some of the latest projects are :-

 Presently, efforts are on to set up a Carpology Reference Centre in the name of Late Rev. Fr. H. Santapau.

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 An Appeal

The Blatter Herbarium is the only centre in Bombay having such a vast diversity of plant collections and facilities for reference and research in plant taxonomy and other related subjects. Unfortunately, it is deteriorating day by day due to lack of funds and staff for its maintenance. Therefore, we appeal to all citizens of this state and of our country, and also to all biologists worldwide, to consider it a moral obligation to help the authorities of St. Xavier's College and the Botany Department in the challenging task of preserving this great centre. It is our collective responsibility to conserve our rich heritage of plant material for the benefit of the future generations of this country and of the world.

 

For further Information email   or write to :

THE DIRECTOR
BLATTER HERBARIUM
St. Xavier's College,
5 Mahapalika Marg,
Mumabai 400 001
INDIA