The UK has the world's largest and oldest collections of herbarium specimens held in trust by museums and universities. As a record of plant biodiversity this resource is unparalleled and could be vital for future studies of taxonomy, ecology, conservation and genetic biodiversity.
Documenting large herbarium collections is an extremely labour-intensive task and most museum collections are woefully under-funded. Consequently, most of the specimens are undocumented and unavailable because adequate resources and time to properly record the collections have never been available. This is a terrible waste.
Information for volunteers
With your help and expertise and the support of thousands of other like-minded volunteers we can realistically document the entire herbarium collections of even the largest institutions.
Through the efforts of a small army of amateur botanists the plant biodiversity of the UK is the most studied and recorded in the world. This project aims to apply some of that effort to making the wealth of information from historical collections widely accessible and available.
This project is open to everyone. You do not need any particular botanical knowledge or experience to take part.
Information for keepers of herbarium collections
We are looking for more collections to take part in this scheme and welcome any proposals for collaboration and offers of data.
For small under-resourced collections the herb@home project can be a very effective way to get your collection fully digitized and cataloged. We can arrange for someone to photograph your collection and handle all the data processing and, working with a large group of online volunteers, ensure that the collection is documented to a high standard.
Larger institutions could consider using the project to target parts of their collection, which while still interesting and valuable cannot attract the resources needed for documentation by traditional methods.
If you have other ideas about how you could make use of the project, or parts of the large body of software created for this website then we'd be keen to hear from you.
Information for data users
The simplest way to access out botanical records is directly through the online specimen search page. All records created are immediately accessible from there. Having founds records of interest you can either follow the links to view the record online, or download bulk sets of records for use off-line (links to do this are at the bottom of the specimen search page), along with links to simple distribution maps.
If your needs are more complex then please contact us and we'll do are best to provide the information you are looking for. With direct access to the database we can easily run more complicated searches than are possible through the web interface.
If you're working on a larger project (e.g. a taxonomic study or a compiling a local flora) and so want access to a large set of records which have not yet been documented then please let us know as we may be able to prioritize work on the particular sets of sheets that you are after. We may also be able to assist you if you can provide sets of sheet images that you would like documented.