Herbaria and Herbaria Consortiums
What is a Herbarium?
A herbarium (plural is hyberia) is like a museum dedicated to plants. The plants are collected in the field, pressed and stored in cabinets. Information on each plant is documented, including the exact location, date collected, collector, habitat, reproductive condition and neighboring plant species. In this way the geographic histories of plants are recorded and can be used to track their spread or decline over time.
Herbarium specimens can also be utilized in genetic research. Molecular analyses can confirm a specimen’s identification, be used to understand its relationship with other species, document its evolution, and be used for many other reasearch purposes.
One of the greatest advances in the herbaria is the digitizing of collections and placing them online. This advance has made whole collections of flowering plants, fungi, bryophytes and lichens available to anyone with access to a computer.
Some of the plants in herbarium collections have been photographed in high resolution, so that researchers can study them in detail online.
Also, many collected plants have been georeferenced using GPS so that they can be placed on maps allowing site visitors to gather the names and records of plants collected from specific locations.
Regional Herbaria with Collections of Colorado Plants
- Colorado Mesa University
- Rocky Mountain Herbarium
- Fort Lewis College
- University of Colorado
- Denver Botanic Gardens
- Utah State University
The Walter Almond Kelley Herbarium, located at Colorado Mesa University in the Wubban Science Building, 1100 North Avenue, Grand Junction, has over 5,000 specimens of plants, consentrating on the flora of the Great Basin. Herbaria staff are also particularly proud of their collection of the Cryptantha genus also found in the Great Basin. In addition, because of the interest of some faculty members, there is a good collection of the genus Piper from Costa Rica and Ecuador.
If you are interested in accessing the collection, call Dr. Stephen Stern at (970) 248-1674.
The Rocky Mountain Herbarium is located in the Department of Botany at 1000 E. University Ave., Laramie, WY 82071-3165. This is the largest herbarium in our area with 883,806 specimens of vascular plants. In addition, the collection includes U.S. Forest Service National Herbarium and the W.G. Solheim Mycological Herbarium for a total of over one million specimens, consentrating on the flora of the Rocky Mountains, and with an additional 300,000 collections that have not yet been mounted.
By going to the herbaria’s URL below, you can search their collection by plant taxa names, by collection date, collector, location altitude and more. You can also get a PDF list of a checklist of Wyoming flora.
The herbarium has not digitized their collection yet, but they are in the process of doing so.
There telephone number is (307) 766-2236.
The native plant collection in the Fort Lewis College Herbarium is housed in the biology department of the college at 1000 Rim Drive, Durango, Colorado. The collection includes 14,000 specimens of vascular plants from the 4-corners region, with special attention to southwest Colorado. The whole collection has digitized photos of the specimens. In addition, the herbarium has a collection of 1,700 funghi. Contact the Herbarium director, Dr. Ross McCauley, with questions or to arrange a visit.
The collection is on-line and searchable through
The University of Colorado Museum Herbarium is located in the basement of the Clare Small Building on the campus of the University of Colorado, 15th and Broadway, Boulder, Colorado. The Herbarium contains a diverse collection of approximately 500,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, and lichens, most of which represent species from the Southern Rocky Mountain region.
In addition, the collection includes plants from western North America, the American Arctic, the Altai and the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia, the European alpine, and the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico.
The vascular plant collections in their online database is digitally photographed, but their byophyte (mosses, liverworts and hornworts) and lichen collections are not yet digitized.
Their online database of their vascular plants is located at the Consortium of Southern Rocky Mountain Hebaria Portal and SEINet.
The Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium of Vascular Plants specializes in plant collections from the Southern Rocky Mountain region. Almost seventy years ago, this herbarium was started by local plant enthusiasts to document native and cultivate plants in the region. The collection now contains about 70,000 collections.
There is also a small ethnobotany collection which documents plants used for medicinal and spiritual purposes.
The collection is stored on SEInet at:
You can see just the DBG collection by going to SEINet, click the Specimen Search and Search Collections, deselect all of the other herbaria, choose Rocky Mountain Regional Consortium, and click the “Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium”.
In addition, Denver Botanic Gardens has the Sam Mitchell Herbarium of Fungi. founded by Dwane (Sam) Mitchell in 1967. Sam collected about 2,000 fungi during his lifetime to start the collection. It now contains about 20,000 specimens which is one of the best collections currently curated in the region.
The collection can be accessed by going to:
This portal works the same as SEINet, but this collection is called, “Denver Botanic Gardens, Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi”.
The Intermountain Herbarium of Utah State University contains specimens of vascular plants, fungi, lichens and bryophytes, with an emphasis on specimens from the state of Utah. The herbarium also contains publications on a wide variety of botanical subjects.
Hybaria Consortium Websites
SEINet is a consortium of herbaria in the midwest and west that has collected the plant specimens of herbaria all across the United States (but mostly in the west). This is a terrific site on which you can do many different things. You can search for specimens by scientific and common name, by herbarium, collector or date, by state, locality or elevation, and you can go to a map and choose an area to generate a species list.
Once you have a species list, you can download and print the list by scientific name, or a list with photos, and you can also create from that list, an interactive key to help you identify the species in the area.
CoNPS is also one of the agencies that store our field trip species lists on SEINet, which is described in the next section on this page.
The Mycology Collections Data Portal is a huge repository of fungal collections from about 132 herbaria across the United States. It operates exactly like SEINet and has all of the SEINet features, except that it does not create dynamic keys of plant species lists that you create.
The Consortium of North America Lichen Herbaria contains lichen specimens of about 109 lichen herbaria in the United States. It also contains specimens from 25 herbaria in Latin America, 14 herbaria in Europe, five Asian herbaria, one Australian herbarium, and four private collections. Like the fungi and bryophyte consortiums, it operates exactly like SEINet and has all of the SEINet features, except that it does not create dynamic keys of plant species lists that you create.