The collection of the botanical department was formed when the museum was founded, and nowadays it amounts to 2 million herbarium items, wet preparations and samples of woods and fruits from around the world.
The botanical department's collections are divided into several sections:
The Czechoslovak herbarium includes all herbarium material from the territory of former first-republic Czechoslovakia. The foundation of this collection was laid by Ladislav J. Čelakovský when he was working on his “Prodrom květeny české,” in which he not only described his own and his colleagues collected material, but also critically revised the available museum collections from former times. The Czechoslovak herbarium was further expanded during the First Czechoslovak Republic by M. Deyl and I. Klášterský, who focused their research on the territory of the whole country, including the until-then unstudied Slovakia and Ruthenia. In the post-war period, the collections grew further thanks to the museum’s staff, J. Soják and J. Chrtek, and the staff of the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, which in the post-war period resided at the same address in Průhonice castle and had its documentation stored there. Nowadays, the collection includes circa 600,000 herbarium items.
The general or global herbarium consists of all herbarium material from outside the territory of Czechoslovakia. Currently, it holds approximately 1.3 million herbarium items covering the period from 1740 to the present. The best represented areas are the Balkan Peninsula, Siberia, Mongolia, and ex-Soviet Central Asia; among the notable collectors represented here are T. Haenke, K. B. Presl, F. W. Sieber, J. S. Pringel, P. E. E. Sintenis, C. G. T. Kotschy, H. Cuming, C. F. Ecklon, J. F. Drege, J. Lhotsky, J. B. E. Pohl, F. R. R. Schlechter, G. A. Zenker and C. L. P. Zeyher.
The herbarium of the fern clade contains lycopods, horsetails and Leptosporangiate fern from Czechoslovakia and the rest of the world. It contains about 100,000 pieces of herbarium material, and from among the notable collections, the material from K. B. Presl, the author of the fern classification system, and the very large collection of O. Feistmantel, are represented here.
The herbarium collection of bryophytes, i.e. liverworts, hornworts and true mosses, contains about 300,000 herbarium items and is the largest in the Czech Republic. It includes the important bryological collection of J. Podpěra and a herbarium of great size compiled by V. Pilous, the author of the only field guides in Czech so far.
This collection holds the most valuable herbarium material in the botanical department – predominantly the nomenclatorial types of various plant names, and to a lesser extent also other historically valuable herbarium material. This collection was formed gradually by selecting herbarium material, primarily from the general but also from the Czechoslovak herbarium, and at present it holds over 10,000 herbarium items.
This collection holds documentary material for “Domin’s Beiträge zur Flora und Pflanzengeographie Australiens” and is the result of his year-long stay in Australia. After the war the collection was deposited in the museum. Later it was nationalized; then after the Velvet Revolution it became an object of restitution; finally, it was declared cultural heritage and purchased. It is a very important source for the study of Australian flora, and thus is frequently studied by Australian botanists.
This collection from the territory of Iran and Iraq was gathered through the activities of E. Hadač and J. Soják. In the 1970s, J. Soják took part in two expeditions to Iraq organized by the National Museum, gathering a considerable amount of material. Together, both collections contain about 15,000 pieces of herbarium items and they are among the most important collections in this field.