The Data from Herbaria

  • D. M. Henderson


The lecture assumes that the intention is to consider an E. D. P. system capable of holding all the useful data in European herbaria but excluding the specimen data necessary for numerical taxonomy. It will examine the types of data available on sheets, their validity and the problems they raise. The general suggestions are:
  1. 1.

    A uniform family system could be adopted easily for the phanerogams but some cryptogamic groups present problems.

  2. 2.

    The lack of universally applicable generic systems and the poor state of revision of herbaria present major problems for input at generic, specific and subspecific levels.

  3. 3.

    The volume of correction following input of collections as they are at present would be very great. Continuous revision of herbarium naming would require continuous input and would inhibit normal curatorial work. Thus the desirability of computerising data only after major revision must be considered.

  4. 4.

    Geographical data will present major difficulties especially with old, poorly localised collections. If any automated geographical printout is to be possible, the compilation of special gazetteers and the conversion of geographical information to a standard grid system might well be obligatory.

  5. 5.

    Authorities for plant names could not be reliably copied from existing labels. The input of plant names if authorities are added would involve a major nomenclatural exercise covering the whole plant kingdom. It might be advisable to dispense with this input as there may be no good use for its output. It would parallel a revised Index Kewensis which would be more informative and valuable.

  6. 6.

    Ecological data on herbarium sheets is not necessarily sound. Codifying it would increase inherent error but the inclusion of this information might be marginally worthwhile.

  7. 7.

    A standard list of plant collectors would be required. The problem is not great with major collectors, but minor, often local, collectors would at least double the task for very little return.



Numerical Taxonomy Plant Collector Ecological Information Major Revision Pilot Scheme 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, London 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. M. Henderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Botanic GardenEdinburghScotland

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