A summary of the concept from a botanist's point of view

The Virtual Herbarium will be:

It will provide access to:

Species images will:

Specimen images will be:

Descriptions will be of two kinds:

"Plain English" descriptions will be non-technical. Such descriptions are often perfectly adequate. They are also more appealing to amateur botanists, an important concern for the Virtual Herbarium. Technical descriptions are sometimes essential for identifying difficult taxa or fragmentary material.

Information on the natural history or biology of a species will be placed in separate files, accessible from either description (and a multitude of other locations).

Distributional Information:

In the second phase, summaries of the information will be made available in map format. In the third phase, "data mining" will be enabled.

Links to specimen images will be provided, if such images are available.

Nomenclatural Information

The Virtual Herbarium will provide explanations of differing interpretations of scientific names. These will be written by experts for non-experts. They will edited for accuracy, clarity, and civility.

The necessity of examining specimens to determine the interpretation being used will be emphasized.

Because one purpose of the Virtual Herbarium is to attract non-botanists, information will also be made available through common names, to the extent that this is feasible.


Developing keys is not a goal of the Virtual Herbarium, but links will be provided to keys that individuals are willing to make keys available in this manner. There will be no restriction on the scope or nature of such keys.