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Bolus Herbarium Library

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Using the Library

The library contains a great wealth of early botanical works, including the writings of early 17th century travellers who visited southern Africa and explored its flora.

Bolus Herbarium Collection

In the early 1900s, two artists, Mary Page and Beatrice Carter, were employed by the Bolus Herbarium to illustrate a hugely diverse family of succulent plants, which are almost endemic to Southern Africa. These are illustrations of species of the plant family Aizoaceae (Vygies). Their delicate, precise and vividly coloured botanical drawings are now freely accessible online.

Explore the Collection

Find items on the Shelf

Open Shelf Books

The books in the Bolus Herbarium Library are arranged numerically.

Lower Level Shelf label: K 000 – K 585.999
Upper Level Shelf label: K 586 – K 999.999

  • Useful Shelf Numbers in the Library
    Shelf number Subject area
    K 551.4 Geomorphology
    K 561 Paleobotany
    K 570 Life sciences
    K 574 Biology - general
    K 576 Organic evolution and genetics
    K 577 General nature of life
    K 579 Collection and preservation
    K 580 Botanical sciences
    K 581 Botany
    K 582 Spermatophyta (Seed-bearing plants)
    K 582.13 Herbaceous flowering plants
    K 582.14 Herbaceous shrubs and vines
    K 582.16 Trees
    K 583 Dicotyledones
    K 584 Monocotyledones
    K 585 Gymnospermae
    K 586 Cryptogamia (Seedless plants)
    K 587 Pteridophyta (Vascular cryptograms)
    K 588 Bryophyta
    K 589 Thallophyta
    K 741.6 Botanical illustration

Reference Collection

The Reference Collection books are shelved in glass door shelves in lower level reading room as you enter the library. Oversized reference books are shelved at the last glass door shelve with atlases.

Short Loans Shelf

Reserve or short loan items are kept on wooden shelf next to loans desk. They are open to users to read in the library as long as the library is open. Items on the top three shelves can be borrowed for overnight weekdays and for weekend on Fridays.

Fourth shelf items are private books owned by lecturers and the Biological Science department.

Our History

Photo of book spines from the rare books room

The Bolus Herbarium Library owes its existence to Harry Bolus, a businessman, amateur botanist, and botanical artist, who, on his death in 1911, bequeathed his herbarium, his botanical library, and a large part of his fortune to the South African College, (now the University of Cape Town).

It is likely that when Harry Bolus first became interested in South African flora in 1865, Thunberg’s Flora Capensis, the first two volumes of Harvey and Sonder’s Flora Capensis, and perhaps Harvey’s Genera of South African Plants were all that were available to him.

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