Herbaria Policies

    General Policies
    Accessions and Exchanges
    Pest Control
    Destructive Sampling

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 procedures. Nevertheless, because each herbarium tends to have unique aspects, we ask that you please schedule an orientation session with the appropriate curatorial staff before you begin using 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 processing.

— 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 specimens, please 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 staff.

— 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 appropriate cryptogamic 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 significant collections.

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:

  1. 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!).
  2. Possess fertile structures and/or other critical identifying features appropriate to the plant group.
  3. Be accompanied by ready-to-mount labels (permanent ink on acid free paper) with complete label data.
  4. Be accompanied by electronic data corresponding in content to the printed-out label and capable of being converted to our data base format.
  5. 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 similar vouchers.
    • 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:
Andrew Doran
University of California, Berkeley
University and Jepson Herbaria
1001 Valley Life Sciences Building #2465
Berkeley, CA 94720-2465
USA
 

Pest Control

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 guidelines:

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 or removal of pieces for DNA extraction) are generally strongly discouraged.

The University and Jepson Herbaria nevertheless acknowledge that there are instances in which the removal of a limited amount of material for destructive sampling does not seriously compromise the value of the specimen for other 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:

  1. Herbarium specimens should not be the source of first choice if there are other available sources for the desired material (e.g., field collections, botanical gardens). Collaboration with local collectors, for example, can be a mutually satisfactory arrangement.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 March 1996, in conjunction with doctoral studies on the phylogeny of Rosidae. GENBANK #1237; unused cp-DNA banked at UC; results published in Amer. J. Bot. 86:122-154,1999.
Thank you for your cooperation with this policy. Please contact us before proceeding with any destructive sampling that has not been approved in writing.