The Bromfield Herbarium (There are two herbaria - the other being housed at Kew) came into the care of the Hampshire County Council Museums Service in 2001.
The core of the herbarium are plants collected on the Isle of Wight by William Arnold Bromfield (1801-1851). Bromfield's unpublished manuscript was edited and published as the Flora Vectensis, in 1856, several years after his death. The Flora Vectensis was edited by W.J. Hooker and Thomas Bell Salter, the latter having passed sheets of locally collected plants to Bromfield over the years.
W A Bromfield also collected in Hampshire and published his Catalogue of the Plants growing wild in Hampshire in The Phytologist, vol iii and iv (1848-1851). These Hampshire herbarium sheets are annotated Hants Phyt III or Hants Phyt IV.As part of his medical training, W.A. Bromfield had become well grounded in the use of plants and their medicinal properties and this had led to a life-long interest in botany. Although Bromfield collected extensively in the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, he also collected from further a field and exchanged material through Botanical Exchange Clubs.
Members of the Botanical Exchange Clubs would collect a number of specimens of a plant from a locality and exchange them with other members. Although this practice would be seen as a threat to the survival of some species of plants today, during the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, these clubs formed an important part in the understanding of plant distribution. After Bromfield's death, the herbarium was worked on by Alexander Goodman More who added numerous sheets of plants of his own and went on, in 1858, to publish A Catalogue of Flowering Plants and Ferns growing wild in the Isle of Wight.
The Bromfield Herbarium comprises the following
- A compilation of Isle of Wight plants mainly collected by W A Bromfield, with specimens from local contemporary collectors. This formed the basis of the Flora Vectensis
- A collection of plants collected by A G More which supplements the above.
- A small collection of Hampshire plants (mainly VC 11) collected by W A Bromfield and W L Notcutt.
- A compilation of British plants sent to W.A. Bromfield, through Botanical Exchange Clubs.
- A (small) compilation of un-mounted plants collected by Bromfield from Eygpt and Africa, 1850-1851
- A (small) collection of un-mounted plants collected by A G More.