Until the foundation of the Museum of Nature in Bolzano, there was no institution on the territory of today’s province of Bolzano that consistently devoted itself to the documentation of the regional flora and to the establishment of a public herbarium. This is how, over the centuries up to the 1990s, important and extensive collections of South Tyrolean flora ended up in various herbaria of Central European museums and universities. The First World War led not only to South Tyrol’s separation from its political motherland Austria, but also to a considerable collapse of the floristics in the country, which had hitherto mainly been carried out by botanists from the German-speaking world. This demolition and the incipient exploration of the annexed South Tyrol by Italian florists is clearly reflected in the shift from mainly Austrian collections of South Tyrol plants before First World War to mainly Italian collections after the war, at least for some decades.
The present paper provides an overview of the institutions that house extensive 19th and 20th century plant collections relating to today’s South Tyrol, and of the associated collectors.