The Botany headquarters in Via La Pira 4 in Florence is a delicate space, sensitive to external agents. The collections are open to the public for research purposes only.
Botany is the most delicate section of the Museum as it does not host living plants but dried plants coming from all over the world.
The Erbario Centrale Italiano, with over 4 million specimens, is undoubtedly the most important collection in Italy and one of the first in Europe.
The historical herbaria include: Erbario Cesalpino, dating back to 1563, which is the first scientific herbarium in the world and the pre-Linnaeus herbarium of Pier Antonio Micheli, the founder of micology, containing specimens from the 18th century.
Erbario Webb is of utmost importance as it includes samples collected during exploration journeys carried out between the late 18th and the mid-19th centuries in Latin America, Western Australia and the Canary Islands. There are also some specimen collected by Charles Darwin at the Cape Verde Islands during a stopover of the Beagle.
The Botany Museum's historical value is enhanced by the Medicean and Lorraine collections of 1:1 wax plant models of flowering plants of mostly exotic origin. Each model is placed in an elegant porcelain vase created especially by the historic Ginori Factory.
The fruit collection includes both wax models, created in the Museum's ceroplastics workshop, and other made of different materials (papier-mâché and plaster). There are alsothe anatomical or plant pathology plates used for teaching.
Extraordinary and precious are the still-life paintings commissioned by Cosimo III Medici to the painter Bartolomeo Bimbi at the end of the seventeenth century. In these paintings one can find traces of the exceptional Tuscan "biodiversity" of those times. The most diverse varieties of plants and fruits cultivated during that period are carefully cataloged, and even defects due to diseases and parasites are reproduced with great accuracy.
Bimbi's work is studied by botanists as a useful trace to identify species and varieties of flowers which are now extinct or endangered.
Next to Bimbi's originals there are some copies of his magnificent fruit catalogues, kept at the Medicean Villa of Poggio a Caiano: the Grand Duke of Lorena had them made to decorate the halls of the via Romana Museum in Florence.