Use of Online Collections Data

Data from all specimen databases are freely accessible via a number of websites.  The information on all vascular herbarium specimen labels entered in the WBIS [Wisconsin Botanical Information System] database system is available via the WISFlora website []. By request of the WI DNR and internal policy, specific locality data from specimens of endangered, threatened, and special concern species is not available via the web site. Requests for these data require approval by the staff of the Bureau of Endangered Resources of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources before the full data set is released. Data from particular special collections may also be located on partner websites. For example, WIS' lichen specimens is available through The Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria (CNALH) website [], and from our bryophyte collection through The Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria (CNABH) website [].  WIS’ entire collection of vascular plant type specimens can be accessed via JSTOR Global Plants [].


The data and images presented on this website are copyrighted by the Wisconsin State Herbarium - University of Wisconsin-Madison (WIS), which shall remain the sole and exclusive owner of all rights, title, and interest in and to all specifically copyrighted information created and posted.  Use and reproduction of these data and/or maps is authorized for educational or other noncommercial purposes without prior permission from the copyright holder but acknowledgment must be given to the Wisconsin State Herbarium.  Use or reproduction of the data and/or maps for commercial purposes is prohibited without prior written permission of the copyright holders. Please e-mail the Herbarium Director for permission requests or questions about use of these digital data.


Destructive Sampling

Judicious dissection of specimens is normally permitted. Whenever possible, all material studied should be returned to the herbarium specimens. The removal of important elements such as flowers, fruits, leaves, wood, or pollen for destructive procedures is not permitted without prior written permission from the Director or a member of the curatorial staff. Permission for removal of material is contingent upon adherence to the following guidelines.

  • Leaf material, pollen, spores, etc., may be removed from specimens only when there is adequate material available. Care must be taken not to damage the specimen.
  • Material may not be removed from type collections, or from taxa represented in the Herbarium by fewer than 3 collections, except in rare instances, and then only by a WIS staff member.
  • Each specimen must be annotated, indicating the material removed, the nature of the study, the researcher’s name and institutional affiliation, and the date. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Herbarium should be cited in any resulting publications, copies of which should be sent to the Director of the Herbarium.
  • Material may not be removed from a herbarium sheet for a second time if the nature of the study is the same (e.g., pollen material for SEM studies, leaf tissue for DNA analysis).
  • Requests for removal of material for DNA studies will be reviewed and approved by the Director. An extraction protocol must be submitted, along with an estimate of the amount of material needed. Results, both positive and negative, are expected to be reported in writing to the Director. Specimens used for these studies should be annotated. GenBank database accession numbers should be included in the written report to the Director so that these numbers can be transferred to the annotation labels on the specimens by Herbarium staff.
  • We would appreciate having duplicate glass slides of pollen grains and copies of photographic prints resulting from studies based on our specimens.



Specimens are acquired as a result of field work by the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, staff, and students. All collectors associated with the WIS are expected to obtain legal permits before undertaking any collection program. The herbarium has a CITES scientific exchange permit (US-078) and a Plant Import Permit (APHIS).  We have a blanket permit from the Wisconsin DNR allowing designated staff and associated students to carry out collection programs in all Wisconsin State Parks and Natural Areas. Since being designated the official State Herbarium in 1995 all botanical vouchers collected by WI DNR biologists are required to be deposited at WIS.


Gifts & Exchange  

Many specimens are acquired by exchanges and gifts through our exchange program with other herbaria or by purchases made through a special WIS endowment fund established for this purpose. The herbarium also occasionally acquires an orphaned herbarium collection (UWJ, CART, part of UWL) or donated personal collections (e.g., Vern McNeilus [>8000 sheets], Armstrong cryptogams [>1,000 packets], etc.).

WIS accepts almost all materials received as exchanges, gifts, or project vouchers, and encourages new contacts and the opening of new exchange accounts. We have exercised on occasion, however, the right to discard, return, or relay to more appropriate institutions material deemed unsuitable for WIS or of greater interest or utility elsewhere. Our acquisition policy reflects the research aims of the staff and the needs of the state, region, and nation. The geographic priorities for the acquisition of vascular plants specimens for the Herbarium fall primarily into these four categories:

Wisconsin: especially from poorly collected areas and taxonomic groups in need of further study.      

Neotropics: especially temperate Mexico and the Andes. WIS has made special efforts to acquire specimens from the Neotropics for several reasons: a) the need to collect in the tropics before they are destroyed; b) the interest of students in tropical systematics and evolution; c) the need to study the taxonomy, evolution, and ethnobotany of cultivated plants: d) the general interest in Mexico as the biogeographic source area of much of the North American flora.

Holarctic: especially from poorly represented and biogeographically significant areas. These include most of the former U.S.S.R. (especially Siberia and the Far East), Japan, and eastern China.

Other areas: Collections from places such as Hawaii, Africa, and Australia are welcome in small lots simply to provide representative samples of exotic plant families used as resources for the teaching of advance courses. Other worldwide materials are acquired if they represent families of research interest to faculty, staff, and students, or if they complement historical taxonomic strengths of the WIS Herbarium.


Deaccession Policy

Specimens are rarely deaccessioned and are culled while being reviewed by a curator prior to data basing and barcoding. Only those specimens with no locality and collection data, and are not of historical importance, are selected for culling. Where appropriate (flowering or fruiting) the specimen is transferred to the UW-Madison Botany teaching herbarium.

K. Cameron

WIS Director, Ken Cameron