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University of Wyoming

Herbarium, a Definition

A herbarium is analogous to a library. In place of books on shelves, it contains carefully prepared specimens of plants housed in cabinets. These dried and pressed specimens are mounted on 11.5 x 16.5" sheets of stiff, 100% cotton herbarium paper. Each has a label in the lower right corner containing information including the scientific name of the plant, the location and habitat where collected, the date of collection, the collector, and the collector's number. These specimens are placed in folders which are organized alphabetically by family and by species and stored in herbarium cabinets. In the case of fungi, the specimen is either stored in a packet or in a small box.

Some of the many uses of a herbarium are given on the previous page under Education, Research, and Service.

Moving beyond the above analogy, herbaria also have libraries of reference books for use in plant identification and research in floristic, systematic, and evolutionary botany.