Botanists Reap the Benefits of Free Online Database
Would you like to locate preserved specimens of endangered plants? Want to review the plant collections for a specific county? Interested in exploring the collections of Willis Jepson or other early California botanists?
Whatever your botanical interests, you’ll want to bookmark the new, searchable, on-line database being assembled by the Consortium of California Herbaria at http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/consortium/about.html. This free database currently includes information on more than 825,000 specimens, all searchable through a single interface. More than 240,000 of the specimens have been geo-referenced on a county-by-county basis providing longitude/latitude data that can then be automatically mapped directly from the web site.
The Consortium, which was originally developed around the University of California’s botanical collections, now includes twelve of the state’s major collections: the Jepson and University Herbaria at UC Berkeley; the herbaria at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz; the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden; the Biological Sciences Herbarium at California State University, Chico; the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Pomona College combined herbaria; the Carl W. Sharsmith Herbarium at California State University, San Jose; and the San Diego Natural History Museum.
The data included in the database provides a snapshot of the California vascular plant collections at each of the partner institutions. Users can search the database by scientific name, geographic locality, county, collector, collection date, and a number of other factors. Though the site is already impressive, participants stress that it is still a work in progress. The data is updated regularly as each herbarium builds its digital archives and makes progress on the county-by-county mapping process.