The National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (NHPL) is situated at the base of Phulchoki Hill (85°22’ 59.4” E; 27°35’38.2” N and 1515 m asl) in the South East corner of Kathmandu Valley. It was established in 1961 as a Botanical Survey and Herbarium under the Department of Medicinal Plants (DMP).
Later, it was renamed as National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (NHPL), as a Central Level Office – under the Department of Plant Resources (DPR), Ministry of Forests and Environment. The NHPL is abbreviated as the ‘KATH’ Herbarium in ‘Index Herbariorum (IH)’ for its global identity. It is the Government institute focused on country-wide exploration, collection and scientific identification of plants. Since its establishment, plant expeditions have been conducted all over Nepal from its own capacity as well as from collaboration with foreign institutions. It is both oldest and largest Herbarium in Nepal as it has preserved more than 1, 65,000 herbarium specimens, 95 Type Specimens and more than 700 museum specimens of plants.
A herbarium is basically a library or museum of dried plant specimens. It is not only a collection of dried plants but also an educational and research institution. The first herbarium is attributed to Luca Ghini (1490-1556), but by the mid 1500s the art of herbarium-making was disseminated all over Europe. The herbarium of Gherards Cibo, a pupil of Ghini, was started in 1532 and still exists today. Originally herbarium pages were bound into a book. It was (Father of Plant Taxonomy)- Carolus Linnaeus (1707-78), the founder of the modern system of scientific plant names, who departed from the convention of the day. He introduced the idea of mounting specimens on single sheets and storing them flat in cabinets. This became the general practice by the mid 18th century and is still the standard today. In Nepal, National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (KATH) is the largest and Government's owner Herbarium which has 165000 specimens.
The Nepal Herbarium, whose main responsibility is to research and amass information about the plants of Nepal, has specimens of only about 50 percent of the total vascular species recorded in the country. The specimens of lower plants like algae, fungi, lichen and bryophytes, account for only a quarter of the total. The vast collection of specimens of Nepalese plants found in museums abroad were gathered by botanists of many countries who visited Nepal before the establishment of Nepal Herbarium now, National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (NHPL) was established in 1961 at Godavari. Prior to that, for want of a local institution where they could be kept safe and for use later, botanists from abroad had no place to hand over their extra specimens so, ultimately, they were placed in the museums of their own countries