Prehistoric pollen collection

The pollen library of the Department of Prehistory is home to a research collection of pollen samples of modern vegetation from the European continent and the Mediterranean basin.


The pollen repository is housed in the laboratory of palynology of MNHN Department of Prehistory (HNHP UMR 7194 CNRS). The collection consists of roughly 3000 samples of modern pollen, and is composed of a historic collection assembled mainly from 1965 to 1980 by Mme J. Renault-Miskovsky (DR emiratus, CNRS).

Since 2006, 400 new samples have been added, completing the collection and enabling the renewal of older damaged preparations. Pollen slides are prepared with pollen grains extracted from the stamens of living plants. Plants are sampled from parks, gardens and natural environments by lab members during dedicated collecting trips.

Since each species of plant produces pollen grains that are morphologically specific, each sample from the pollen repository matches with a botanical species. The older collection is classified according to plant taxonomy (alphabetical order by family, followed by genus and species).

Pollen de Pinus sylvestris (Pinaceae)

© MNHN - Laboratoire de palynologie

Pollen de Tilia platyphyllos (Malvaceae)

© MNHN - Laboratoire de palynologie

Pollen de Acer monspessulanum (Sapindaceae)

© MNHN - Laboratoire de palynologie

Pollen de Cichorium intybus (Asteraceae)

© MNHN - Laboratoire de palynologie

Pollen de Corylus avellana (Betulaceae)

© MNHN - Laboratoire de palynologie


The pollen preparations, mounted on microscope slides, form a reference collection that is used daily by the laboratory’s researchers and students for comparison with fossil materials studied from an archaeological or geological perspective, as well as to validate diagnoses.

The collection is currently being digitalized and the pollen photographs will constitute a rich palynological library, being used for educational purposes and training.

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