In the U.S. National Herbarium at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, botany department staff examine pressed and jarred specimens of algae.
By Marcia G. Yerman
REVELATIONS FROM PRESERVED PLANTS
“It used to be that all the collected specimens went back to major herbaria,” she says. “Now the plant collections are shared with the country of origin. Also, many programs are digitizing the specimens and the literature so people in places other than major cities with big herbaria have access to resources they never had before.” Digitization also provides a cost-effective alternative to having to borrow a specimen across long distances or send a researcher to view it in person. And now that individual institutions and researchers are no longer the sole holders of specialized regional or plant family collections and data, there is greater participation and higher standards in academic research, Funk adds.