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Herbariums: TerraLiving's Modern Take on Botanical Treasure & Legacy With Stylish Terrariums

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

Introducing Herbarium: A Timeless Botanical Treasure


Herbaria, repositories of preserved plant specimens, have long served as an invaluable source of botanical knowledge and inspiration. In this in-depth blog post, we will unveil the captivating history of herbariums, their varied applications, and how our brand, TerraLiving, reimagines this botanical legacy in our luxurious preserved moss and fern terrariums, tailored to complement modern living spaces and workplaces.

Artist's impression of how a typical work environment of herbarium pressed plant-processing looks like.
Artist's impression of how a typical work environment of herbarium pressed plant-processing looks like.

The Enchanting Saga of Herbarium:


Herbarium took root during the Renaissance, an era marked by a renewed fascination with nature, as botanists and naturalists began preserving plant specimens for scientific exploration.


Italian pioneers Luca Ghini and Gherardo Cibo crafted some of the earliest herbaria. Often hailed as the father of herbarium collections, Luca Ghini (1490-1556) devised a method for pressing and drying plant specimens before mounting them on paper sheets, creating an orderly and easily accessible catalogue of plant species. His innovative work inspired his protégés, such as Andrea Cesalpino and Ulisse Aldrovandi, to refine and expand his techniques, thus establishing their own herbaria.

A painting of Luca Ghini. Image from Wikipedia.com
A painting of Luca Ghini. Image from Wikipedia.com

As the 17th and 18th centuries unfolded, herbaria blossomed into comprehensive storehouses of plant biodiversity, serving as essential resources for research, education, and conservation initiatives.


The art of crafting herbaria spread across Europe as botanists and naturalists set sail on voyages of discovery. As they unearthed new plant species, they collected and preserved specimens to enrich herbaria in their homeland, thereby advancing botanical understanding.


Among the era's most influential herbaria were those of Joseph Banks, who accompanied Captain James Cook on his expeditions, and Carl Linnaeus, the visionary behind modern taxonomy.

Artist's impression of a botanist working in a herbarium in 17th Century.
Artist's impression of a botanist working in a herbarium in 17th Century.

The 19th and early 20th centuries witnessed further refinements in herbarium practices, including the use of standardized mounting techniques, acid-free paper, and the implementation of systematic cataloguing systems. Herbaria gained increasing importance in scientific research, empowering botanists to study plant diversity and distribution on a global scale.


During this period, renowned institutions such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in the United Kingdom, and the New York Botanical Garden in the United States established herbarium.

The Great Palm House at Kew Gardens, London. © Hulton Archive Getty Images
The Great Palm House at Kew Gardens, London. © Hulton Archive Getty Images

These institutions and countless others worldwide continue to serve as critical resources for botanical research and conservation efforts.


Today, herbaria safeguard millions of specimens that embody the astounding diversity of Earth's plant life. They offer researchers invaluable insights into plant taxonomy, distribution, and ecology, enhancing our comprehension of nature and our ability to protect and preserve it for future generations.

Herbarium book which dates from 1633. Made by the Flemish Bernardus Wynhouts
Herbarium book which dates from 1633. Made by the Flemish Bernardus Wynhouts

Herbarium: A Multitude of Disciplinary Applications


Herbarium collections have proven to be invaluable across an array of fields, such as:

Botany: Herbarium specimens supply crucial information regarding plant taxonomy, morphology, and distribution patterns, aiding researchers in identifying and classifying plant species while keeping track of changes in plant populations over time.


1. Conservation: By documenting plant biodiversity, herbariums enrich our comprehension of ecosystems and bolster efforts to preserve endangered species by identifying high conservation value areas and providing restoration guidance.


2. Education: Herbariums are an essential teaching resource for students and researchers delving into plant science, ecology, and related fields, presenting tangible examples of plant morphology and diversity for hands-on learning experiences.


3. Pharmacognosy: Herbarium specimens have facilitated the discovery and examination of plants with medicinal properties, contributing to the development of new drugs and therapies in both traditional and modern medicine.


4. Ethnobotany: Herbariums play a part in unraveling the connections between plants and human cultures, illuminating the historical uses of plants for food, medicine, and cultural practices.


Herbarium, and how it inspires us to create our terrariums


Herbaria have historically been housed in specialized institutions, such as museums and botanical gardens, where experts carefully manage the specimens in controlled environments to ensure their longevity. Due to the delicate nature of these collections, herbariums have typically been inaccessible to the general public, their beauty and significance veiled from everyday view.

Artist's impression of how a herbarium should look like based on real-life visit. Photos are usually not allowed in a herbarium museum.
Artist's impression of how a herbarium should look like based on real-life visit. Photos are usually not allowed in a herbarium museum.

At TerraLiving, we are captivated by the timeless charm of herbariums and their capacity to conserve and display nature's beauty. Our preserved moss and fern terrariums (also known as ZERO Moss or ZERO Ferns) honour this botanical legacy by integrating elements of herbarium collections into sophisticated, low-maintenance decorative pieces accessible to everyone.

Our scientists archiving live moss samples for preservation research.
Our scientists archiving live moss samples for preservation research.

While traditional herbarium methods typically involve mechanical processes such as pressing, our preservation technique employs a food-grade approach to biologically and chemically preserve the moss. This preservation method allows the 3D structure of plant cells to remain intact. In addition, our proprietary chlorophyll dye ensures that the moss retains its vibrant colour.

Chlorophyll extraction of moss species in our preservation lab.
Chlorophyll extraction of moss species in our preservation lab.

TerraLiving's Modern Interpretation Of Centuries Old herbarium Tradition


Our terrariums showcase a modern, sleek, and minimalist design that harmonizes with contemporary interiors while reflecting herbarium collections' rich history and tradition.


By incorporating preserved mosses and ferns, our terrariums offer a sustainable and durable alternative to conventional indoor gardening. This allows you to appreciate the magnificence of botanical specimens up-close without needing constant upkeep.

Unique moss and wood specimens in a custom-designed geometrical glass terrarium by TerraLiving
Unique moss and wood specimens in a custom-designed geometrical glass terrarium by TerraLiving

Our scientist working on transplanting preserved moss with meticulous attention-to-details
Our scientist working on transplanting preserved moss with meticulous attention-to-details

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