Specimen Digitization

Digitization of herbarium specimens and related materials includes th capturing of data and images and storing them in a digital format. Considerable progress has been made in the creation of digital assets from herbarium collections, as well as in the dissemination of this information. The digitization process allows for collections to be queried and analyzed in ways not previously possible and enables virtual access to those unable to visit the collections in person.

The Macrofungi Collection Consortium (MaCC) and MycoPortal

Mushrooms and related fungi (macrofungi) play a critical role in the lives of plants and animals, including humans, yet their diversity is underestimated. Understanding this diversity will be critical in analyzing impacts of habitat change, nutrient cycling in ecosystems, and the distributions and diversity of host organisms. Scientists in the United States have been studying these fungi for the past 150 years, resulting in the creation of approximately 1.4 million specimens across 35 institutions in 24 states. These institutions joined the Macrofungi Collection Consortium (MaCC) in an effort to digitize and share online all data associated with macrofungi specimens. The resulting resource enables a national census of macrofungi and allows researchers to better understand the diversity of these organisms and the relationships between macrofungi and other organisms.

The Kriebel Herbarium (PUL) joined the MaCC in 2014 and digitized 260 cataloged specimens of macrofungi in the first year. Digitalization efforts are ongoing, and these photographs are available on PUL MyCoPortal database, including images of the label and the specimen as well as geolocation data. Additionally, the PUR MyCoPortal database contains the digitalized materials from the Arthur Fungarium (PUR).

Global Plants Initiative


The Global Plants Initiative is a community-contributed database that features more than two million high-resolution plant type specimen images and other foundational materials from the collections of hundreds of herbaria around the world. It is an essential resource for institutions supporting research and teaching in botany, ecology, and conservation studies. Through Global Plants, herbaria can share specimens, experts can determine and update names, students can discover and learn about plants and fungi, and a record of plant life can be preserved for future generations. Purdue University Herbaria is a proud Partner of the GPI.

A total of 397 type specimens of vascular plants from the Eli Lilly & Company Collection in the Kriebel Herbarium (PUL) were databased and imaged in 2012 as part of the Global Plants Initiative. (Institutional access required to view the JSTOR GPI website.)

HerbScan system

The Arthur Fungarium (PUR) joined the GPI in June of 2013 to digitize 3243 type specimens in the PUR. The digitization process was managed by Dr. Jordan Bailey, who supervised a team of undergraduate employees who conducted data capture, as well as verification of type status. Specimens were scanned using the specially designed HerbScan system fabricated by Kew Botanic Gardens in London, England. The HerbScan is an inverted flatbed scanner house above a movable platform. This platform is made of a foam base that absorbs pressure and avoids damage to specimens. Specimens were scanned at 600 dpi, which captures an amazing amount of detail. Specimen images from the PUR can be found on the JSTOR GPI website (institutional access required).

Indiana Memory Digitization

The Indiana Memory Project is a collaborative effort to provide access to the wealth of primary sources in Indiana libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions, made possible by the U. S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the Indiana State Library. The Purdue University Herbaria joined this project in 2014 and has since digitalized our Herbaria correspondence collection. These documents contain many letters between important faculty of the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University as well as documents detailing some of the collections within the Herbaria. The Purdue University Herbaria Correspondence Collection is available via the E-Archives of the Libraries and School of Information Studies at Purdue University.