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Steere Herbarium
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The new William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, opened in 2002

Collections Policies and Protocols

Acquisition policy. The NYBG Herbarium houses collections that represent both vascular and non-vascular plants and fungi from all countries and biomes throughout the world, especially those from temperate and tropical America (the long-standing focus of NYBGís research program) and plant groups studied by past and present staff. There is no charge to donors of specimens for deposit in the NYBG Herbarium.

The Herbarium obtains specimens via staff collections, exchange of duplicates with other herbaria, adoption of orphaned herbaria, and occasionally through purchases or gifts. The Herbarium endeavors to accession high-quality specimens useful primarily for systematic and floristic research, and also for ethnobotanical, biogeographical and other studies. Quality is assured by encouraging the staff to collect good, fertile specimens and by maintaining exchange agreements with herbaria that provide well prepared and labeled, fertile specimens from areas of scientific interest to NYBG.

Future acquisitions will concentrate on:

  • a) specimens from temperate and tropical America and other areas in which an NYBG staff member is working actively;
  • b) specimens of taxonomic groups, worldwide, studied by NYBG staff members;
  • c) worldwide reference specimens of all plant and fungal groups.

Exchanges of specimens with other herbaria will conform to the concentrations mentioned above. Other acquisitions (e.g., orphaned herbaria, purchases) will also conform to these concentrations, and any duplicate specimens acquired in orphaned herbaria will be dispersed to other interested herbaria.

Loan Policy. Loans of specimens are made to recognized herbaria upon approval of the request by the Director of the Herbarium and/or a scientist if the request is for material within the scientistís area of research interest. With few exceptions, specimens are not sent on loan to individuals without an institutional affiliation. NYBG has never charged for loans.

Access to collections. The Herbarium is open to any visitor, professional or amateur, with a legitimate reason to consult the collections. All visitors check in with, and are oriented by, a member of the Herbarium staff. There are no charges for on-site study of the collections by an individual.

Destructive sampling. The collections of the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium are maintained to balance preservation of the integrity of specimens with use for scientific research. Decisions concerning destructive sampling are made on a case-by-case basis by the Director of the Herbarium. Samples obtained in this way must be properly stored and curated in a permanent facility so that the material may be provided to others for further study. The researcher must provide NYBG with location and storage method of any left-over sample.

Access to collections data. The information on herbarium specimen labels will normally be available without charge on-site to anyone with a legitimate reason for consulting the specimens. There is a charge of $30.00 per hour, however, if, upon request, data are extracted and provided by a member of the Herbarium staff. Data from specimens that have been cataloged electronically are posted to NYBGís Virtual Herbarium. There is no charge for access to these data. There may be a charge for requests for data that are not available on the Internet that require the services of NYBG staff to assemble.

Herbarium pest management. All specimens are frozen for at least 48 hours before using them in the Herbarium to reduce the possibility of introducing insect pests. Additionally, no food or drink is allowed in the herbarium. The fungal collections, which are especially susceptible to infestation, are kept in a separate room in the herbarium that is maintained at 50 degrees Farenheit and 50% relative humidity.

Arrangement of the collections. Families are arranged in the Englerian sequence, modified to reflect the families recognized by Cronquist, 1988. Within each family, the genera are sorted alphabetically; each genus is sorted into geographical regions in color-coded folders; and within geographic regions the species are sorted alphabetically, with unidentified specimens at the end of each category. Boxes of separate parts, including fruits, are filed at the end of each family. Type specimens are arranged in a similar fashion but in a separate sequence.

Taxa listed on CITES Appendices. The Herbarium makes every attempt to follow the resolution regarding herbarium specimens published as part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). All specimens of species listed on any of the CITES Appendices are specially labeled to alert users that special rules govern their transport and use. Loan of specimens of CITES listed taxa are sent only to herbaria registered with CITES, and each specimen sent is tracked individually. Only Virtual Herbarium loans of CITES listed taxa are available for borrowers at non-registered herbaria.

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