One of the major challenges in ecosystem conservation is obtaining baseline data, particularly for regions that
have been poorly inventoried, such as regions of the African continent. Here we use a database of African herbarium
records and examples from the literature to show that, although herbarium records have traditionally been
collected to build botanical reference “libraries” for taxonomic and inventory purposes, they provide valuable and
useful information regarding species, their distribution in time and space, their traits, phenological characteristics,
associated species and their physical environment. These data have the potential to provide invaluable information
to feed into evidence-based conservation decisions.