University of Warsaw Biological and Chemical Research Centre Faculty of Biology
ul. Żwirki i Wigury 101
02-089 Warsaw
Tel. (22) 55 26 687
Free admission
Mondays – Fridays: 9 am – 3 pm
Advance booking is essential
(please call or email).
Director: Maja Graniszewska PhD
Staff: Hanna Leśniewska MA

The Herbarium of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Warsaw, (WA) is responsible for botanical collections that have been amassed on a regular basis over the past two hundred years. These collections are some of the oldest in Poland, and it is estimated that they contain more than one million specimens. The herbarium was established by Michał Szubert, a renowned botanist, and director of the Botanical Garden in Warsaw and also a professor at the Royal University of Warsaw. When he began his work at the university in 1816 he already had a collection of several thousand specimens, but it was only after he had managed to obtain a new location for the Botanical Garden that the garden itself began to expand as did the supporting facilities, including the herbarium. From the labels it can be gleaned that he began collecting plants for the herbarium starting in the following year, which is why 1819 can be considered the actual beginnings of the Warsaw Herbarium as a university entity. The collections remained the property of the Botanical Garden for many years but were constantly expanded thanks to Szubert, his co-workers and successors, one of whom was Bolesław Hryniewiecki – who assumed directorship of the Botanical Garden in 1919. Hryniewiecki established the Department of Plant Systematics, which later assumed responsibility for the collections of the herbarium. Much is owed to Hryniewiecki for the considerable development of the herbarium collection, which had come to a certain standstill due to a period of intensified persecution by the partitioning powers. The First World War left its mark on the number of specimens and their state of preservation, however Hryniewiecki was unusually effective in putting in order what had survived and overseeing the donations made by other institutions. After the Second World War he recovered the herbaria that had been taken by the Germans; after they were returned they ended up in the Department of Systematics and Plant Geography at the University of Warsaw, of which he was the head until 1960. The department continued to evolve within the Herbarium Department until 2008 when it was elevated to the rank of an independent laboratory within the university’s Faculty of Biology. During its long existence, spanning more than two hundred years, the herbarium was enhanced by Tytus Chałubiński’s collection of mosses, donated in the interwar period by the Warsaw Horticultural Society and Warsaw Scientific Society. After the Second World War the collections of the Szczecin Natural History Museum, and part of the collection of the Jelenia Góra Natural History Museum, were also transferred to the herbarium. The number of specimens also grew thanks to the collections of individual researchers, international exchanges and herbaria donated as part of the scientific work carried out by students and staff of the University of Warsaw. Currently nearly half of the Herbarium collections date from the 19th century with the oldest dating back to the early 18th century. The most numerous specimens are represented by vascular flora – both species from Poland and from the rest of the world. There is also a fine collection of mushrooms, with the first scientific mycological collection from the area around Warsaw; containing representatives all the groups previously distinguished in the plant kingdom, therefore including slime moulds (eukaryotic organisms), lichens, algae and bryophytes. In addition to the natural specimens, the herbarium also amasses items that are connected with herbalism in its widelyunderstood meaning, so it is possible to view equipment used by herbalists in bygone days. The herbarium collaborates with many museums, making its collections available for temporary exhibitions, and also conducts scientific and educational activities, lending materials for teaching purposes and taking part in projects that popularize science and promote the knowledge of plants.
Maja Graniszewska PhD