Science is an international communal effort and the supplying of material to researchers who are often not botanists and do not know to source wild African plants is an extremely important aspect of the Herbarium’s work. The staff are in a position to know where plants are to be found in their natural habitat over much of southern and south-central Africa. The Tropical Important Plant Areas project at Kew, for example, frequently refers to them for assistance.
significant contributions to science, medicine and agriculture
Hundreds of scientists have visited the Research Centre over the past 20 years. A herpetologist described it as the finest he had visited anywhere in the world. The pristine nature of the ecosystems means that not only plants are available, but also fungi and lichens, new species of both of which have recently been discovered. Increasingly animals including birds, reptiles, bats and amphibians have attracted researchers.
An international project aims to barcode the DNA of all African plants.
Michelle van der Bank who runs the local section of this project relies on the Herbarium to provide her with plant DNA and it acts as a repository for 3,500 specimens used in the ACDB project (African Center for DNA Barcoding).
Alvaro Viljoen explores medical uses of African plants taking into account their uses in traditional medicine.
Viljoen claims that laboratory bound plant chemists mostly do not know how to find and identify wild plants.
Jill Farrant is the Winner of the 2010 L’OREAL UNESCO Laureate Awards For Women in Science for her work on the development of drought resistant crops. She relies on the staff of the Buffelskloof Herbarium to source plant material.