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Herbarium Collections


The herbarium's total holdings number over 600,000 specimens of vascular and nonvascular plants, fungi, lichens, and marine algae. The herbarium maintains a regional focus on the Pacific Northwest, covering Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, British Columbia, and the Yukon Territory. Other significant collections come from California, the rest of Western North America, and the Pacific Rim.

Our oldest specimens date to the late 1800's. Particularly active periods of growth for the herbarium occurred with the incorporation of the herbarium of J. William Thompson in 1943, collections made under the direction of C. Leo Hitchcock in the 1930's - 1950's, and field work since 2002.

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Holotype of Prunus ×pugetensis.
Holotype of Prunus ×pugetensis.
WTU Herbarium

Database Development

WTU began databasing in early 2002 through a joint agreement between the Washington Natural Heritage Program and the Bureau of Land Management to document the county-level distribution of all vascular plant taxa in Washington. 19,000 specimens were databased, representing one specimen per species per county. Shortly thereafter, our database was brought online through a separate grant from the Washington Native Plant Society, allowing electronic access to our collections data for the first time.

We started with a FileMaker database template from the UCR Herbarium at the University of California, Riverside. We subsequently modified and then completely rebuilt their database to suit our needs. In early 2013 the herbarium migrated its vascular plant database from FileMaker to a custom web-based interface developed by the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria.

In 2004 the herbarium was awarded an NSF grant (#0346624) which provided funding to database all of our Pacific Northwest vascular plant specimens. Data entry under this grant began in early 2005 and was copmpleted in 2007, at which time about 170,000 specimen records were available online.

In 2009 we began databasing our Pacific Northwest bryophyte, lichen, and fungi collections. These are now available through the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria web site. Later partnerships with the NSF-funded Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria and Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria enabled us to image a portion of our lichen and bryophyte collections, primarily representing specimens outside the Pacific Northwest.

In 2012, we joined the Macrofungi Collection Consortium and began imaging many of our fungi collections. Another, recently awarded NSF grant will allow us to soon begin imaging and databasing our algae collections.

Funding from the Mellon Foundation allowed us to capture high-resolution scans of our type specimens during 2010 and 2011. The images are now available on our web site and will also soon be available through JSTOR Plants.

The Collections

Vascular Plants:

Vascular Plants 375,000 specimens
197,005 in database
1,132 type specimens


fungi 48,000 specimens
71,921 in database
350 type specimens


fungi 30,000 specimens
31,429 in database
30 type specimens


fungi 118,000 specimens
73,274 in database
57 type specimens


fungi 23,000 specimens
0 in database
30 type specimens