Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Botany Collections

The plant collections of the Smithsonian Institution began with the acquisition of specimens collected by the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842). These formed the foundation of a National Herbarium which today numbers over 5 million historical plant records, placing it among the world's largest and most important.

Over 1.2 million specimen records (including over 105,000 type specimens with images) are currently available in this online catalog.

Search the Botany Collections

Select a tab on this page to search by Keyword or Selected Fields. If you don't know what you want to see, you may want to look at the sample records in the Quick Browse section below. Searches are limited to 10000 records and the results are sorted by taxonomic group. If you need to retrieve a larger record set, contact the Department of Botany's Data Manager.

Help

See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).

Featured Searches

Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search terms will be returned.

Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.

Keyword search example: marantaceae ("new guinea" OR australia) images

Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields. Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists.

The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table) , Sheet or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button Change View to cycle between these views.

In Sheet View:

In Grid View:

In Gallery View:

See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example, Excel or Google Earth.

Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button (Expansion button) in Grid View, on the scientific name in Sheet View, or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons (Collapse button) indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).

Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from the column's dropdown menu).

Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the bottom toolbar in Grid, Sheet, or Gallery View.

You can also export all or selected results to a KML file for viewing with Google Earth or other KML viewers, by clicking the Export as KML button. This button is grayed when all or selected results lack latitude/longitude values.

To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide the appropriate unit and querystring to:

http://collections.mnh.si.edu/search/UNIT/?QUERYSTRING

where UNIT is:

and QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate words):

Here are a few search tips:

Please use the Feedback page to report back any problems you find with the data, or with using these search pages.