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    About the Collections

Among the holdings of these two herbaria are major collections of land plants from the Pacific Rim—the Philippines, China, portions of Southeast Asia, and western North America and South America. These materials include substantial representations from California, northern Mexico and Baja California, the southwestern deserts, and the Andes.

There is an outstanding collection of ferns, especially from the New World tropics. Also present are excellent collections of marine algae from California and its offshore islands, the Maritime National Parks of Alaska, and Hawaii, as well as algal specimens from Australia, South Africa, Antarctica, and many other regions of the world.

The herbaria maintain large collections of fungi from California, northern Europe, Brazil, and Australia and have a broad worldwide representation of mosses, liverworts, and lichens. With the rapid expansion of collections of California mosses and liverworts, the herbaria staff look forward to completing a bryophyte flora for the state, a major current effort.

Voucher specimens are stored by the herbaria for the Botanical Garden and for faculty and graduate students conducting plant-related research.

Dried specimens in the University and Jepson Herbaria are by their nature fragile. Yet herbaria staff attempt to serve the needs of researchers, educators, and the public by making the collections as available as possible to qualified users. The collections are, of course, a major resource for Berkeley faculty and graduate students studying plant systematics and evolutionary biology. They are also a source of demonstration material for undergraduate botany and biology classes each semester. In addition, several thousand specimens are sent on loan every year to specialists around the world.

Many of the older collections, such as plants collected during a 1930s survey of national parks, are increasingly called upon as "baselines" against which to compare current species distributions and to assess the impact of human disturbances on both marine and terrestrial habitats. Herbarium specimens are often examined by environmental consultants; government agency scientists, such as state foresters and fish and game biologists; ethnobotanists; native plant enthusiasts; and those interested in herbal medicines, to name a few. When not assisting others in the identification of plants or responding to various queries, the herbaria faculty and staff pursue systematic and evolutionary studies of selected taxa and contribute to floristic projects in many parts of the world. Their studies are aided by modern laboratories equipped for microscopic, anatomical, and molecular research as well as by comprehensive book, reprint, and map collections.

Continuing interest of the public and academic community in California's extremely rich flora was reflected in the release of the first edition of The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California in 1993. This updated version of Jepson's 1925 manual, containing twice as many species as Jepson's original, involved a 10-year effort by Jepson Herbarium staff and scores of botanical experts across the United States. The second edition, a complete scientific revision of the first edition, was published in early 2012.