top of page

Mariella Baldwin & Mihaela Sava collecting specimen plants for our herbarium in early spring 2023.

Photo by Christian Doyle.

Copşa Mare Herbarium &  Illustrations 


For centuries, the farmed grassland above the village has provided grazing for cows, sheep, goats and water buffalo. In the words of botanist John Akeroyd, the High Nature Value grassland of the Greater Târnava Valley is "a genetic treasure trove of fodder crops". We are conscious of the fact that the grassland is unlikely to survive in its present state as the local economy moves away from subsistence peasant farming - slow, mixed, largely unmechanized, and without resort to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers - to what we may dare to hope could become a more economically-viable version of what has been for hundreds of years a truly sustainable use of land. 


We are undoubtedly on the cusp of change, and it is for this reason that we embarked in 2023 upon a 4 year project to record all the flowering plants in the grassland here. The project is led by the school's resident botanist, Mihaela Sava, who expects to record some 300 species in all, concentrated in an area of around 50 hectares. Our goal is to provide scientific evidence of this diversity in the period 2023-2026. This will allow future generations of botanists to determine whether the 'genetic treasure-trove' to which Akeroyd refers has been depleted – or even enriched.


In our project, each specimen plant, correctly dried, tied and labelled, is stored in the school’s own herbarium. Each herbarium sheet is accompanied by a pen & wash illustration of the same species drawn by hand from the living plant, with diagnostic parts of the plant depicted.


The original herbarium sheets and illustrations, just like our own set of the Transylvania Florilegium, are an important part of the school’s botanical library and teaching. All our students and tutors may refer to them during their study stay. 

The project is funded from school fees. We are now digitising the herbarium sheets which shall become available online. Our herbarium is listed under TSBAI in Index Herbariorum.  

All 300 illustrations shall be digitised as well, and published at the end of the project in 2027.


Here is a taste of

 Transylvania Grassland.


Our Hand of Illustrators

Illustrating 300 living plants is no small undertaking and our team of illustrators is growing to meet the considerable task we have set ourselves. We are fortunate that so many outstanding botanical artists have chosen to accept our invitation to take up residency here for a week or more to illustrate the grassland flora.  Thank you!

Mariella Baldwin

 Gillian Barlow

Patricia Gherase

Angie Girling

Sarah Howard

Jackie Isard

Srijita Jana

Ivona Mariș

Nina Mayes

Sarah Morrish

Sally Pond

Elaine Searle

Laura Silburn

Dianne Sutherland

Polly Sutherland

Jana Táborská

Mary Ellen Taylor

Hazel Wilks


bottom of page