7 Jun 2017

The Council is considering honouring the former employee whose passion for plants drove the development of the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and its Herbarium.

The Social and Community Development Committee has voted to recommend the Council name the herbarium the Lawrie Metcalf Herbarium in recognition of Mr Metcalf’s tireless efforts to grow the herbarium’s collection.

Lawrie Metcalf viewing plant material through a microscope.

Lawrie Metcalf viewing plant material through a microscope.

Mr Metcalf was a horticultural apprentice at the Botanic Gardens when he first got involved with the herbarium in the 1940s.

At that stage there were probably no more than 100 specimens in the herbarium.

In 1955 when he was appointed Assistant Curator of the Botanic Gardens, he initiated a sweeping programme to improve the Gardens' plant collections and their documentation, including making a sustained effort to build up reference specimens in the herbarium.

He personally lodged at least 1780 new specimens from throughout New Zealand and New Caledonia during the following decades and by the end of the 1970s he had contributed more than half of all the specimens in the collection.

Even today it is estimated about 45 per cent of the 5000 dried, mounted and catalogued specimens of cultivated and wild plants in the herbarium are a result of Mr Metcalf’s collecting.