University and Jepson Herbaria

The University and Jepson Herbaria are two separate herbaria at the University of California, Berkeley. These botanical natural history museums are located on the ground floor of the Valley Life Sciences Building on the main campus of the university in Berkeley, California. There are a number of ancillary collections such as the Fruit & Cone Collection, Horticultural Herbarium and Spirit Collection. Holotypes are maintained separately for both Herbaria. The Charterhouse School Herbarium (Index Herbariorum designation GOD) is housed separately within the University Herbarium. The Herbaria have an open house every year on CalDay with a range of activities for children and adults.

University HerbariumEdit

Founded in 1890 with the new Department of Botany, the focus of the University Herbarium is worldwide and includes vascular plants, bryophytes, algae, and fungi. Originally located in South Hall (UC Berkeley) the University herbarium grew rapidly and now contains over 2.2 million specimens. Although not officially named 'Director', William Albert Setchell, whose primary interest was marine algae, officially established the University Herbarium and was chair of the Botany Department. He was succeeded in 1933 by Herbert L. Mason in 1933, Lincoln Constance in 1963 and Robert Ornduff in 1975. 1982 saw Thomas Duncan as Director lead ambitious digitization efforts. These efforts were furthered with the appointment of Brent D. Mishler (a bryologist and Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology) as Director in 1993. Under Mishler's leadership the Consortium of California Herbaria database was established in 2003 to serve as a gateway to information from California vascular plant specimens that are housed in herbaria throughout the state. The Herbaria currently have over 375,000 digitized specimens with a combined total for the consortium of over 1.3 million specimens.

Jepson HerbariumEdit

The focus of the Jepson Herbarium is California vascular plants, including the native flora of California. It was established to "understand and conserve the California flora." In addition to the herbarium specimens research staff are working on botanical projects that include updating The Jepson Manual, as well as related online resources for identifying California flora. A series of workshops on botanical and ecological subjects are designed and run to accommodate botanical enthusiasts from beginners to professionals. It was founded by Willis Linn Jepson in 1950, and named after him. The First Jepson Curator was Rimo Bacigalupi (1950–68) followed by Lawrence R. Heckard (1968-1991). The Current Curator of the Jepson Herbarium is Bruce Baldwin who is also a Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology.


Due to past and current staff and faculty research the collections have particular strengths in bryophytes, pteridophytes and algae in addition to families such as Compositae and Umbelliferae. The collections are housed in a climate controlled, purpose built facility. Cabinets are installed on moving compactors for maximum space efficiency. The museum maintains a positive air pressure to reduce risks to the specimens from dermestid beetles and other museum pests. The majority of the California collections date from the 1860s on, however a number of specimens are prior to this including some collections of David Douglas from the 1830s. The Herbarium of Charterhouse School (Index Herbariorum GOD) is maintained separately within the Herbaria.

Libraries and ArchivesEdit

In addition to the specimens the Herbaria house two libraries and extensive archives containing field books, correspondence and images that support collections research. The archives contain material that often transcends botany such as documents detailing events in the American Civil War, particularly the experiences of botanists J.G. Lemmon and Sara Plummer Lemmon. John Gill (J.G.) Lemmon was a prisoner at Andersonville Prison and Florence Stockade, and a self-taught botanist; Sara Plummer Lemmon, his wife, was also a self-taught botanist, and the two cataloged numerous Southwest and desert plants.

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