Accessions and Exchanges
Specimen Data and Label Templates
General Policies for In-House Researchers
Welcome to the University and Jepson Herbaria! As a graduate student,
post-doc, or visiting
researcher, you are probably already familiar with general herbarium
because each herbarium tends to have unique aspects, we ask that you
please schedule an
orientation session with the appropriate curatorial staff before you
the herbaria. This will familiarize you with the herbarium lay-out
and alert you to any
UC/JEPS-specific policies for handling specimens. In addition, please
note the following:
— No dried plant material is allowed into the herbaria until it has
been treated to
destroy potential pests (e.g., herbarium beetles). Specimens removed
from the herbarium
premises (which include contiguous offices) are likewise treated upon
return. Because we no
longer depend on chemical controls (PDB), it is absolutely essential that
this step be taken to
prevent the entry of pests. [Exceptions for some plant groups.]
The primary treatment is freezing for several days. Specimens to be
frozen can be left in the
herbarium cabinet in the quarantine/field room (1001EA). After freezing,
specimens can be
retrieved from the routing ("F") cabinet (see below); expect about a
week's turn-around time.
— Unless arranged otherwise, all incoming shipments of dried
plants are frozen and processed by
collections management staff prior to being routed to designated
recipient. Please do not take
incoming shipments of dried plants from the mailing area, even if they
are addressed to you, until
they have been frozen and processed. Notify collections management staff
if you are expecting a
shipment that should NOT be frozen or that otherwise requires special
— Also as a vital component of infestation prevention, specimens are
kept in cabinets when not in
use. Any specimens left out overnight are frozen before being
refiled (give to
Collections Management staff). See Collections Manager for herbarium
cabinet availability beyond
what might be in your assigned space.
— If specimens are removed from the main collection to be kept with
study material from other
sources, leave a tag behind indicating where the specimens are located.
— The 'F" or routing case is used as a holding case when
specimens are being routed to someone
(e.g., after freezing), so that specimens need not be left sitting out if
the person is not available.
The person is notified by a card left in his/her mailbox. When retrieving
remember to return the card to the pocket inside the door of the routing
case. Please do not leave
specimens sitting in the routing case for extended periods of time.
— Materials for class use or display is placed in protective
plastic covers for protection and
logged out as a short-term loan. Frequently used specimens are kept in
covers and maintained
separately. For further instructions, check with collections management
— A limited number of herbarium plant presses is available to be
checked out for a defined period
of time (see Collections Manager; avoid last-minute requests). For
extended use, you are
encouraged to purchase or construct a personal plant press.
Loans from Other Institutions: Material is borrowed from other
herbaria as a loan between
institutions, not between individuals. Loan request letters are from a
designated representative of
the institution (e.g., Director of the Herbarium), and the institution
accepts responsibility for the
proper care and timely return of borrowed specimens. Unless agreed to in
advance, all loans are
expected to be fully annotated prior to return. Removal of material for
destructive sampling (e.g.,
molecular analysis) also requires prior approval from the lending
institution. When you are ready
to begin borrowing specimens, check with Collections Manager (or
curator) for further details and instructions.
Accessions and Exchanges
The University and Jepson Herbaria are constantly growing collections,
reflecting the on-going growth in our knowledge of plant diversity and
distribution. New acquisitions result primarily from 1) in-house staff
and student collections, 2) standing exchange programs with other
herbaria world-wide, 3) specimens sent as gift-for-identification to
in-house researchers, and 4) gifts from a diversity of sources,
especially non-academic professionals and native plant enthusiasts. The
latter often serve as our most valued source of new records from under
collected areas in the western United States.
In general, the Jepson Herbarium (JEPS) accessions only vascular plants
from California, whereas the University Herbarium (UC) covers all plant
groups world-wide. Gifts of California plants will be deposited in the
Jepson Herbarium unless the donor specifies otherwise.
All exchange is through the University Herbarium. At present we are not
soliciting new exchange programs, due to limitations in our capacity to
generate and process outgoing material, consisting primarily of
specimens from the western United States.
To minimize redundancy of specimens in the San Francisco Bay Area, we
have a non-duplication policy with the California Academy of Sciences
(CAS/DS). Exceptions are made for types and other particularly
Because of limited specimen processing resources and storage capacity,
specimens submitted for accessioning in the University of California at
Berkeley herbaria should generally meet the criteria detailed as follows:
- Be well-prepared, with sufficient material to occupy a standard
herbarium sheet (unless rarity dictates otherwise). Extraneous plants
and dirt should be removed (note associates and substrate on label if
relevant, not as part of the specimen!).
- Possess fertile structures and/or other critical identifying features
appropriate to the plant group.
- Be accompanied by ready-to-mount labels (permanent ink on acid free
paper) with complete label data (see Specimen Data and Label Templates).
- Be accompanied by electronic data corresponding in content to the printed-out label and capable of being converted to our database format (see Specimen Data and Label Templates).
- Fall within the following desiderata:
- Uncommon or otherwise
interesting plants from California. This includes range extensions,
material from under-collected areas, and significant recollections or
- Good collections from the
western United States, especially if uncommon or otherwise interesting.
- Specimens from Latin
America, including Mexico and the West Indies.
- Specimens from Asia and
the Pacific Basin, including Australasia.
- Specimens from
Mediterranean and other arid regions worldwide.
- Representatives of unusual
plant groups worldwide.
- Representatives of groups
under investigation by UC-JEPS staff (e.g., pteridophytes,
Compositae, herbaceous Rosaceae)
- Cultivated material only
if 1) from the Bay Area or 2) the locality of the wild source population
is indicated and falls within the above desiderata.
- Vouchers for studies
undertaken at UC-Berkeley. (In the case of large voucher sets, a
representative subset will be fully accessioned and cross-referenced to
the remainder, which will be kept unmounted in a voucher storage area).
- Unidentified specimens from interesting areas and earlier times, as long as good locality data are present (accepted on a case-by-case basis).
Specimens submitted by mail for accession should be addressed to:
University of California, Berkeley
University and Jepson Herbaria
1001 Valley Life Sciences Building #2465
Berkeley, CA 94720-2465
Specimen Data and Label Templates
To help expedite processing of incoming accessions, the University and Jepson Herbaria provide a Microsoft Excel data entry template matching our specimen database format. We also provide a matching MS Word Mail Merge document to generate herbarium labels from the spreadsheet. Instructions are also included.
Download the label generating files here
A separate data/label template geared specifically toward collecting California rare plants is provided in collaboration between the California Plant Phylodiversity Project (CPPP) and the CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt. Files are available through the CPPP Workshop Page.
Please send questions/comments about the templates to Jason Alexander, email@example.com
In order that the herbarium central collections area be maintained as a
(hopefully) pest-free environment without relying on paradichlorobenzene
or other toxic chemicals, NO PLANTS ARE TO BE BROUGHT INTO THE
CENTRAL COLLECTIONS AREA until or unless they meet the following
a. All incoming dried meterial MUST be frozen for a week (if a shorter
time period is essential, microwaving is an option). This is particularly
critical for specimens shipped from other institutions, including
returned UC/JEPS specimens. Even specimens that are not prone to
infestation (e.g., algae, bryophytes) should be frozen in order to
eliminate potential paper-destroying pests.
b. As an exception rather than the rule, a limited quantity of recently
collected specimens that 1) have not been housed where infestations are
likely and 2) are needed in the collections area for only a brief period
of time (e.g., for comparison with UC/JEPS collections) may be given
clearance after a visual inspection by an authorized staff member. This
is a pragmatic alternative to microwaving, based on the fact that even if
eggs are present they are unlikely to hatch and cause an infestation
within a few hours. As a corollary, the specimens should subsequently be
frozen if they are to be left in the herbarium.
c. Living material is generally okay, following the logic that the pests
that attack live plants are not the same as those that attack dried plant
material (also, living plants do not hold up well to freezing or
microwaving). However, pollen-bearing structures and dead portions should
be inspected and/or removed.
d. Specimens left out overnight should be frozen prior to refiling
(evening is the period of greatest adult herbarium beetle activity). It
is also recommended that material that has been housed outside of the
main collection area (e.g., research offices) be frozen prior to
refiling, just to be on the safe side. Specimens that have been outside
of the contiguous herbarium area (e.g., offices elsewhere in VLSB) must
be frozen prior to reentry.
e. Fluid-preserved material does not need to be frozen. Remember,
however, that formalin-preserved material should be examined only under
an operating hood.
Destructive Sampling of Specimens
Two important missions of herbaria are: 1) to preserve the botanical
specimens entrusted to their keeping; and 2) to make the specimens
available for study by researchers. By and large, the primary uses of
herbarium specimens, such as examining morphology or recording
distributional data, are non-destructive.
Destructive uses of herbarium specimens (such as anatomical preparations
removal of pieces for DNA extraction) are generally strongly discouraged.
The University and Jepson Herbaria nevertheless acknowledge that there
instances in which the removal of a limited amount of material for
sampling does not seriously compromise the value of the specimen for
purposes; if done properly, the value of the specimen may even be
enhanced in that it has acquired additional status as a voucher. Our
policy on destructive sampling is therefore as follows:
Thank you for your cooperation with this policy. Please
before proceeding with any destructive sampling that has not been
approved in writing.
- Herbarium specimens should not be the source of first choice if there
available sources for the desired material (e.g., field collections,
botanical gardens). Collaboration with local collectors, for example,
can be a mutually satisfactory arrangement.
- Destructive sampling will continue to be considered the exception to
the rule, not the normal procedure. As such, permission to remove
material must be requested in writing in advance and is subject to
specimen by specimen approval.
- Material may be removed only from specimens that have an abundance of
the kind of material being removed, such that the value of the specimen
for non-destructive research is retained.
- Destructive sampling of type specimens or similarly valuable
historical specimens is not permitted unless: a) the information to be
obtained is of critical significance; b) there is absolutely no other way
to obtain the desired material; c) sufficient material exists; and d) a
special exemption is granted.
- Specimens from which material has been removed are to be annotated to
indicate what was removed, when, where, and by whom. In light of the
status of the specimen as a voucher, a reference to where the results are
published and/or material is deposited is highly desirable. Example:
Leaf material removed for cp-DNA sequencing at UC by A.K. Johnson on 25
1996, in conjunction with doctoral studies on the phylogeny of Rosidae.
#1237; unused cp-DNA banked at UC; results published in Amer. J. Bot.