Saturday, January 2, 2010

Virtual Herbaria...A New Year with Plant Specimens On-line

Over the holiday, Dr. J inquired about a project that has a goal of bringing all the US Herbaria on line, both with images and a searchable database, in a, "virtual herbarium." Mary Barkworth, the chair of the virtual herbarium initiative in the United States got back with information right away. It is summarized and shared with Read-about-it readers here.

02 Jan 2010 13:06:35

  • The term [virtual herbarium], in general, has been used in many different ways, however, [botanists] tend to, "use it only for web sites that provide information about herbarium specimens online, preferably via images and a searchable database."

  • Utah Valley University has a good one for a small herbarium - but it is not much use if you are not in that part of the world.

  • Missouri Botanical Garden has a searchable database - tied the data base on names I think.

  • The Pacific Northwest Herbaria collaborate in making their specimen information available - as are the California herbaria.

  • Mary Barkworth chairs an initiative that has as its goals bringing all the US Herbaria on line - images and searchable database. (

Here are some related links:


  2. (great for names, incidentally for specimen information)



A special thank you to Chair Barkworth for the links and above information on virtual herbaria.

I (Dr. J) remind readers that the Botanical Society of America also has a plant image collection:

You can find images of plants here, too: (Lists many virtual image collections from all around the globe)

For information on digitization of herbarium specimens in Kenya:

Other herbaria with African plant collections and a link to an article on an African initiative (an initiative for a virtual herbarium, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation):

From Brussels:

Latin American Plant Initiative (initiative is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation):

Mireya Correa, herbarium director at STRI and the University of Panama, shared with SciDev.Net, that, "scanners today can take high-resolution images of both sides of a specimen....[which]... is much better than seeing the plants in a microscope [...] And you don't have to travel http://post-create.g?blogID=4227554902061100641to herbaria in other countries and spend a lot of money to see a type specimen. All the information will be in the digital database." Source: Accessed: 02 Jan 2010. More information at:

References to Asian plant image collections:

I hope that you have found this list helpful and that you will take a virtual tour of the herbaria around the globe. I have tried to include herbaria from all parts of the world. I am certain there are many other plant image collections. Please add any you feel were left out in the comments below. Thank you.

A special thank you to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation which has made the formation of several components of the virtual herbarium possible.

A reminder that philanthropy for the sciences, like botany, are especially important when the economy is down. Since plants provide food and oxygen, shelter, fiber, shade, and help prevent desertification, among other benefits, it is important that all aspects of botany are supported. Please contact the director or chair of your local herbarium if you would like to help support the plant images initiative near you. Thank you for support of and interest in the sciences, science literacy and science education.

Dr. J

Find scientists in your location, or, around the globe, and support them. Support research in areas you feel it is needed. Support science literacy and science education. Thank you.

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