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University of Wyoming

Visitor Guidelines & Policies

Researchers should make arrangements for access to the herbarium prior to visiting in order to assure that adequate workspace is available. If specimens are being brought into the herbarium, these should be shipped far enough in advance to allow a minimum of 48 hours in the freezer. First-time visitors to the herbarium must receive an orientation to the collections and specimen handling before access can be granted (less so for professional systematists).

Please be sure to sign the guest register located near the west entrance to the herbarium upon your arrival.


The Collections

The holdings of the RM and USFS are from Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain region, and elsewhere in western North America, although there is a significant representation from throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are housed in a colorful array (and hence the "Rainbow Herbarium" moniker applied by some) of mobile storage rows. Within these cabinets the specimens are arranged first by major group (non-vascular plants, Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Angiosperms-Monocots, and Angiosperms-Dicots) and alphabetically by family, genus, and species within each. At the generic level these are also segregated geographically: Wyoming specimens in red folders, other Rocky Mountain region specimens in yellow folders, and specimens from outside the region in tan folders (these are also arranged regionally by country; province for Canada, state for the USA); within each region specimens are further arranged alphabetically by species.


The Type Collection

Type specimens are separated from the main holdings and access requires the assistance of the curator or manager. Extreme care in the handling of these specimens is required.


Handling of Specimens

Please see our guide for visitors (PDF) for detailed instructions for researchers wishing to use the herbarium. Remember the following important points:

  • Great care should always be used when handling specimens.
  • Specimens should be held flat with both hands, such that the paper cannot bend and damage the specimen.
  • Similarly, folders should always be carried horizontally and fully supported.
  • Specimens in folders should never be shuffled as it can which can lead to damage of underlying specimen. Furthermore, specimens should never be turned over as pages in book.
  • To inspect the contents of a folder, place it flat on a table, and stack specimens face up neatly to one side. Order of specimens within the yellow and tan folders should be maintained.
  • Never rest objects such as books, your elbows, etc., on specimens or folders.
  • Specimens in need of annotation should be brought to the attention of the herbarium staff. 

Herbarium Library Use

The Herbarium Library is available for use by visitors. It is non-circulating so materials must not be removed. Information about photocopying can be provided by the curator or herbarium manager.


Loan Policies

The specimens of the RM are available for scientific study not only by researchers visiting the facility (see our guide for visitors), but also via loans to accredited institutions. Generally, loans are made for taxonomic or floristic research only, but exceptions may be made for other kinds of botanical investigations.

Loan Requests:

Generally, loans are made for taxonomic or floristic research only, but exceptions may be made for other kinds of botanical investigations. A loan request must be in writing (e-mails are acceptable) from the director or primary curator of the institution where the specimens are to be shipped. It should be sent to Ronald L. Hartman, curator. The following information should be provided: 1) the name and status of the researcher requesting the material; 2) the name of the study, its geographic scope (if restricted in area); 3) the taxa requested, including synonyms (one list with accepted names and synonyms in alphabetical order); and 4) the basionyms for any relevant type specimens.

Loans of specimens (including types) are made for a period of one year. Requests for loan extensions should be addressed (or emailed) to the curator. While on loan, specimens must be housed in sealed herbarium cases and handled according to standard herbarium practice. We recognize that a limited amount of dissection may be necessary for some kinds of research. We request that dissections be kept to a minimum. All material dissected from a specimen must be placed in a fragment packet affixed to the sheet. Any need for destructive sampling (e.g., removal of seeds, pollen, DNA, etc.) must be explained in writing (e-mail).

The researcher is expected to annotate all material with annotation labels glued to the sheet above or in proximity to the original label, if possible. The annotation label must be legible in permanent ink, and should include the taxon name, investigator's name and institution, and year of determination. The label must be economical in size. Type specimens should be annotated with the accepted name, basionym, citation of protologue, and category of type (holotype, isotype, etc.).  If the above mentioned literature citation and type category are already clearly noted on the sheet, repetition is not necessary.


Exchange Program

The herbarium has exchanges with more than 71 herbaria, most in North America but 13 in Europe and one in Asia. The degree of activity varies with institution and when we have time to assemble sets of specimens.

Our most active exchanges emphasize the Rockies and western North America, but we are interested in arctic/alpine specimens throughout the northern hemisphere.

Due to the tremendous number of duplicates from recent floristic inventories throughout the Rockies and limited space for expansion, we are more interested in finding institutions willing to accept material as donations. At most, we can afford a 10 percent rate of return.


Plant Identification Services

Submitting dried and pressed specimens:

Plant specimens sent to the Rocky Mountain Herbarium should be pressed and dried prior to shipping. See our guide to the pressing/drying of specimens (MS Word). This document provides additional reference on field and herbarium techniques, sources of collecting and herbarium supplies, a bibliography of floras useful for plant identification in Wyoming, samples of label information, and a formatted label. Where possible, specimens of high quality are appreciated in exchange for identifications.

Fresh plant specimens may be delivered for identification by mail or in person. This process works well for grasses and herbaceous plants. First remove soil from the roots or cut off a segment of flowering stem, wrap the base with a moist paper towel, and place the specimen in a ziplock bag. Do not add water to the bag.

Place dried and pressed or fresh specimens into a mailing envelope or box with collection data and return address (phone#, email address) and send it to: 

Ronald L. Hartman, Curator. E-mail: rhartman(at)uwyo(dot)edu
B. E. (Ernie) Nelson, Manager. E-mail: bnelsonn(at)uwyo(dot)edu

Rocky Mountain Herbarium
Department of Botany, 3165
University of Wyoming
1000 E University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 1-307-766-2236
FAX: 1-307-766-2851