Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Virtual Field Herbarium

Continuing with Botanical Art week, Oxford University has something called The Virtual Field Herbarium. which is a tropical plant field guide and contains an image database.  One should remember that a lot of plants in gardens and greenhouses originated in the tropics.

The images include photographs, drawings and paintings.

For those interested in producing guides to botanical specimens for personal or teaching purposes it would appear that the Herbarium has some potentially useful service. 

It's also useful for those wishing to check the botanical characteristics and names of the specimens they are drawing or painting.

A sample of the paintings 
in the Herbaria's image database

It also has a very useful glossary for those wanting to check out exactly what a botanical term means.

Below is a guide which indicates what's on offer and what's possible.
A brief summary of highlights
  • Thousands of images of plants, especially tropical ones, with links to their creators or others responsible for deciding who can use them.
  • Most images are linked to herbarium specimens, so names used for these images are potentially verifiable in the herbarium by reference to the specimen. If you question any of our names, the links provided will put you in touch with the photographer or plant collector.
  • If you register and log in, you can make a simple field guide using a set of images you select. We hope this might help some users create field guides to small areas, e.g. for schools or local sale to tourists, and might encourage users to start to develop fuller field guides.
  • The specimen data, with linked species, genus and family information in some cases, should be useful for field guide writers.
  • We suggest some steps and other tips for producing various types of field guide.
  • Jargon botanical terms (in a glossary) are linked to images and text showing what these terms mean. This should help you choose terms and characteristics that might be useful in your field guide.
  • Links to the literature relevant to field guides and to the results of our trials on field guide format.

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