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Kohlmeyer Catalogue



Incorporation at NYBG


The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant MA-05-10-0504-10 supported the incorporation of the Kohlmeyer Herbarium into the New York Botanical Garden.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supported the digitization of the Kohlmeyer type specimens, as part of the Global Plants Initiative.

We are especially grateful to Drs. Jan and Brigitte Kohlmeyer for entrusting NYBG with their herbarium.

We are also grateful to Ms. Catherine Innes, Director of the Office of Technology Development at the University of North Carolina for arranging the transfer of ownership of the Kohlmeyer Herbarium to NYBG, and to the staff of the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences for logistic support during the herbarium move.

Incorporation of the Kohlmeyer Herbarium

Transfer to NYBG

In 2001, shortly after Dr. Kohlmeyer retired from his position at University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences, he approached Dr. Barbara Thiers, Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, to ask if the Garden would consider accessioning his herbarium when he was done with his research.

On September 30, 2009, a team from the Garden traveled to North Carolina to pack and transport the herbarium. The dried and fluid-preserved specimens were packed in padded boxes, and each box was labeled with the accession number sequence it contained. The boxes, along with the herbarium cabinets that housed the specimens, were then loaded onto a 14 ft. truck for transport.

The 17,500 microscope slides were transported in the 36 20-tray wooden cases that housed them in North Carolina. Each tray was padded with a rectangle of foam padding, cut to size before the trip.


Incorporating the Kohlmeyer Herbarium has presented challenges to our specimen and data management protocols. A typical herbarium specimen (fungal or plant) consists of one species, and when we database that specimen we assign one barcode to it – one barcode, one species, one specimen.

However, for microscopic organisms like most marine fungi, a specimen does not contain one but many species, consisting of a piece of substrate that contains a community of organisms. It is not unusual for a single Kohlmeyer specimen to contain up to about 30 different species. A single specimen number assigned to a collection from the Kohlmeyer’s survey of the fungi on halophytes may have a suite of species in varying combinations in up to 10 subpackets. Because the Kohlmeyers were pioneers in the field of marine mycology the encountered many previously unknown species, which they described. Thus in their herbarium, each piece of substrate contains not just multiple species, but often a number type specimens!

Kohlmeyer specimens with multiple species per specimen, and also specimens on unusual substrates, e g., sand, algae, barnacles.

The objective of the NYBG’s effort to incorporate the Kohlmeyer fungi is to make it possible for users to find all the specimens cited by the Kohlmeyers in their many publications, and also for a user who may be unfamiliar with the Kohlmeyer’s research to locate all the specimens they collected of a particular species or from a particular region.

To meet this objective, we have not only imported the Kohlmeyer’s database and created additional database records, but also have created a series of finding aids in the form of spreadsheet grids that will be available in hard copy and on line with the specimens. These will help show the relationship among the specimens from a given habitat.


We are interested in comments from users about the new interface and any additional features that would be helpful.

Please send these comments to:

Barbara Thiers
Herbarium Director

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