Digitization of the most valuable parts of collections in Czech herbaria

Digitization of the most valuable parts of collections in Czech herbaria

This project is focused on identifying, digitizing and evaluating the most important herbarium specimens, mostly nomenclatural type specimens, preserved in Czech herbarium collections. It has been supported by a series of grants from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic on the common theme of “National heritage of world importance”. The main institutions involved are the Botanical Department of the National Museum in Prague, the Botanical Department of the Moravian Museum in Brno and the Herbarium collections of Charles University in Prague.


Image of three-dimensional objects. Photo by M. Hladík


Neotypus Veronica triloba z herb. PRA. Photo by M. Hladík


Neotypus V. triloba, detail. Photo by M. Hladík


Digital camera in action. Photo by M. Hladík

Digital images are stored in archival quality and also at usually two levels of compression depending on their intended use (e.g., direct study or the Internet). In total, over 17 thousand images have been taken so far (2012). We are currently working on making the images available on the Internet. The project has so far focused mostly on converting type specimens (nomenclatural standards) to digital form. This concerns the following collections: Th. Haenke, Sicilian collection of K. Presl, Australian herbarium of K. Domin, Bulgarian material of J. Velenovský, type specimens from the collections of Münch-Bellinghausen, K. Vandas, E. Formánek, I. F. Tausch etc.


Fulfilment of the main  goal

The fulfilment of the main goal of the project – making important herbarium sheets available to the world research community – has lead to several new findings that are both interesting and worthy of publication, be it for example specific taxonomic-nomenclatural evaluations of individual type specimens or new revelations that supplement and refine our current knowledge about the history and content of herbarium collections concerned by the project. Good examples are the gradual uncovering of the content of the unique historical collection of Münch-Bellinghausen in the vaults of the Moravian Museum or the recent discovery of a set of several dozen type specimens of taxa belonging to the Asteraceae family described by A. DeCandoll based on collections of Th. Haenke, which are now deposited in university collections in Prague (PRC).


Examples of papers published as part of the project or with its significant support:

Domina G. et Štěpánek J. (2009): Typification of the name Orobanche canescens C. Presl (Orobanchaceae) with taxonomic notes. – Candollea 64(1): 31-37.

Kirschner J. (2009): Typification of Zaluzianskya villosa F. W. Schmidt (Scrophulariaceae – Manuleae). – South African J. Bot. 75: 588-590.

Kirschner J., Kirschnerová L. et Štěpánek J. (2007): Generally accepted plant names based on material from the Czech Republic and published in 1753-1820. – Preslia 79: 323-365.

Kirschner J. & Štěpánek J. (2011): Dandelions in Central Asia: a revision of Taraxacum section Stenoloba. – Preslia 83: 491–512.

Skočdopolová B. et Chrtek J. (2008): Wallroth´s collection of vascular plants in the herbarium of National Museum, Prague. – Acta Mus. Nat. Pragae, Ser. B, Hist. Nat., 64: 5-37.

Sutorý K. (2004, 2006): Material of type character in the Münch-Bellinghausen collection in the Moravian Museum, Brno (BRNM). 4. Anton Rochel. 5. Karel Bořivoj Presl. Acta Musei Moraviae, Sci. biol. 89: 203-227, 91: 165-179.

Sutorý K. (2008): What is Cynoglossum rotatum Velenovský? – Phytol. Balcanica 14: 255-256.

Štěpánek J., Kirschner J., Jarolímová V. et Kirschnerová L. (2011): Taraxacum nigricans, T. alpestre and allies in the Taraxacum sect. Alpestria: taxonomy, geography and conservation status. – Preslia, Praha, 83: 537–564.



GA206/01/0687: Diversity of the tropical flora in Czech herbaria: collections of Th. Haenke, K. B. Presl and K. Domin, 2001–2003.
GA206/04/0995: Diversity of the European flora in Bohemian and Moravian herbarium collections from the turn of the 18th and 19th Century, 2004–2006.
GA206/07/1555: Diversity of the flora of the Balkan Peninsula and Eastern Mediterranean in Bohemian and Moravian herbarium collections, 2007–2010. This grant support has mostly been spent on purchasing high-quality technical equipment. Objects are photographed using a Sinar p2 medium-format digital still camera, which allows high-resolution imaging not only of more or less flat objects, such as traditional herbarium sheets of pressed plants, but also of three-dimensional objects.


RNDr. Jan Štěpánek, CSc.
Phone: +420 271015270
E-mail: stepanek@ibot. cas.cz


Mgr. Otakar Šída
Botanical department of the National Museum in Prague
E-mail: “>otasida@seznam.cz


RNDr. Karel Sutorý, CSc.
Botanical Department of the Moravian Museum in Brno
E-mail: ksutory@mzm.cz


doc. RNDr. Jan Suda Ph.D.
Herbarium collections of Charles University in Prague
E-mail: “>suda@natur.cuni.cz