Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History currently remains in a closed status for collections activities, including acquisition of collections, acceptance of donated collections, sampling, photography and other information or service requests, and incoming and outgoing loans. We appreciate your interest in resuming collections activities. Department collections staff will send updates as they become available.
The collections of the U.S. National Herbarium are available for scientific observation by all qualified visitors. Requests to borrow specimens will be considered from recognized botanical institutions or departments.
REQUESTING LOANS: A loan must be requested by an official staff member of the institution, not by students or non-staff scientists. State for whom the material is being requested and the nature of their project. Provide the names (including synonyms) under which specimens are likely to be filed. Specify the geographical area desired for the requested species. Please do not request type specimens unless and until they are necessary for critical analysis. State if a selection of material, especially common species, will meet the needs of the investigator.
LOAN CONDITIONS: If the requested taxon is represented in our herbarium, our practice is to retain selected sheets for comparative purposes. If a requested loan involves a significant quantity of specimens, we encourage the investigator to visit and personally select from the available material. Loans are made for one year unless otherwise stipulated by US. However, we ask that loans be returned at the earliest opportunity; partial returns are acceptable. An extension of the loan period may be requested through a written request to the Collections Manager. US reserves the right to request the return of its loan material at any time.
UPON RECEIPT OF LOAN : Type specimens must remain in their folders. - The unprinted newsprint used for packing all specimens may be removed. - Verify the number and condition of specimens. - Sign, date and return invoice to the Department of Botany.
HANDLING/STORAGE: Herbarium sheets must not be laid face downward, bent or folded. Herbarium specimens should be stored in dry, sealed cabinets to avoid insect and fungus infestation, and not left on countertops or open storage for extended periods of time.
ANNOTATIONS: Existing notes, labels, annotations, etc. must never be removed, obscured, or altered. We would appreciate any amplification of label data that may be obtained from duplicates on loan from other herbaria. Please supply this information on an annotation label and cite the herbarium sheet from which this data was taken. Before returning specimens, if the investigator is confident of the identification, a determination (or affirmation) label should be glued to the herbarium sheet, above or near the original label whenever possible. This annotation should be legible, prepared with permanent ink, and should include the taxon name, the investigators name, institution, and date of determination. Do not write directly on the herbarium sheet except to indicate the different elements of a mixed collection. If a sheet contains more than one taxon, clearly delineate each element of the mixture, and annotate each element with a separate determination slip. Type specimens should also be annotated with the basionym, citation of the publication, and an indication of the status (e.g. holotype, isotype, syntype, paratype, etc.). Please remember to annotate any separate fruits or bulky specimens that correspond to a herbarium voucher sheet.
TRANSFERRING: Specimens must not leave the premises of the borrowing institution unless prior commitment of willingness to accept transfer is obtained from the proposed recipient, which must be another recognized botanical institution, and prior permission is granted by US.
RETURNING: Specimens should be packed in a way similar to that in which they were received. Place each herbarium sheet between a folded sheet of interleaving (preferably unprinted newsprint) so that any fragments which may loosen during shipment can be associated with the proper specimen. A stack of specimens not more than 6" (1.5 dm.) high, should be securely bundled between cardboards for support. Bundles should be soundly packed, allowing for no movement of the material, in a sturdy shipping box. US collections borrowed by institutions overseas should be returned by airmail. Accompanying the returned specimens, we would appreciate a list of synonyms derived from the taxonomic study for which the specimens were borrowed. Proper cross references can then be placed in our herbarium which will facilitate proper filing of specimens not annotated by the investigator.
PUBLICATIONS: Use the standard internationally recognized acronym "US" when citing collections of the United States National Herbarium. Cite the US sheet number to identify a specimen. Do not cite barcode number; it is not permanent. We would appreciate receiving any publications resulting from studies based on our collections.
For more information concerning loan regulations, contact the Collections Manager