Despite the rich biodiversity of plants in the islands of southeast Asia, modern pollen reference collections are still sparse for this part of the world. With only limited availability of pollen data, the ability to answer questions, regarding climate change and environmental change, to aid archaeological investigations through the reconstruction of past vegetation, or even for modern investigations, is challenging. No palynological work had ever been carried out in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, before this investigation. During 2007–2008, as part of the ‘Cultured Rainforest Project’, a number of cores were extracted for multi-proxy palaeoecological analysis, including pollen analysis. The cores produced a 50,000-year record of climate, environmental and later anthropogenic change. To aid fossil pollen identification, a modern pollen reference collection was also established. In August 2008, 253 modern plant species from a wide range of habitats were collected from in and around the villages of Bario and Pa’Dalih. Specimens were identified at the Department of Forestry Sarawak Herbarium (SAR), whilst pollen slides from all of the plant specimens were prepared at Queens University Belfast. This paper presents a detailed account of the pollen grains (176 species) collected from the Kelabit Highlands, and from SAR (25 species).