The plant collections of the Smithsonian Institution began with the acquisition of specimens collected by the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842). These formed the foundation of a National Herbarium which today numbers over 5 million historical plant records, placing it among the world's largest and most important.
Over 1.2 million specimen records (including over 105,000 type specimens with images) are currently available in this online catalog.
Select a tab on this page to search by Keyword or Selected Fields. If you don't know what you want to see, you may want to look at the sample records in the Quick Browse section below. Searches are limited to 10000 records and the results are sorted by taxonomic group. If you need to retrieve a larger record set, contact the Department of Botany's Data Manager.
See the Help tab to learn more about searching and then exploring your returned results (sorting, exporting, etc.).
||Search the Botanical Type Register
||Search Plant Photo Images
||Search Botanical Art
Use the By Field search to find specimen data that match values in specific database fields.
Enter a value or choose one from the dropdown lists.
Click the Search button to initiate a search. Clear resets all fields.
Some lists are linked, so for example, choosing a Country narrows the choices for
Province/State/Territory, and District/County. Dropdown choices also
narrow as you type, for example, typing zing in the Family field might narrow the choice to Zingiberaceae.
Check Only Records with Images if you want to restrict the search to records with multimedia content.
You can force an exact search by surrounding your search text in double-quotes. Exact means exact,
the search is case-sensitive and must match the value of the entire field. An exact search will also
take much longer to complete.
You will receive a warning when you enter invalid information in the text fields. For example,
Catalog Numbers are composed strictly of letters and numbers; other characters raise a warning.
Enter your keywords separated by spaces and click Search. Records that match your search
terms will be returned.
You can join terms with OR to match any, e.g. guam OR palau
- You can include the terms image(s) or type(s) to find records that have images or that are type specimens.
To search for Catalog Numbers, replace spaces with dashes, e.g. instead of ABC 12345,
use ABC-12345. Do not include any other terms.
Note that searching for common (vernacular) names may not yield the expected results. Associating common names with specimen records is a work in progress.
Keyword search example: marantaceae australia images
The results of your searches can be displayed in Grid (a sortable, customizable table)
or Gallery View (best for reviewing images). Use the Switch button
to cycle between these views.
You can choose whether to display 5, 10, 20, 50, or 100 records at a time.
In Sheet View:
Click on the scientific name to view the full record.
Click on the thumbnail to view larger resolutions of the image. Use Control+Click
(Command+Click) to open a new browser tab.
In Grid View:
You can choose the columns to display from any column's dropdown menu (mouse into
a column header and click the dropdown icon). Under Columns, click the name
to display or hide the field (you do not need to click the checkbox specifically).
You can drag a column header to change its order of appearance in the grid.
You can also drag the edge of a column to make it wider or narrower.
Click in the expansion
column to view the full record.
In Gallery View:
Click the image to view the full record.
See Exporting Results for information on downloading results to, for example,
Excel or Google Earth.
Open the full collection record by clicking the expansion button
in Grid View,
on the scientific name in Sheet View,
or anywhere within the image frame in Gallery View. Inverse expansion buttons
indicate records with multimedia (typically, images).
In the Record window, metadata for the multimedia content is available when you mouseover the thumbnail.
Clicking the thumbnail opens the content in your browser or other appropriate application.
Record windows may be resized or moved within the browser window.
You may have up to ten Record windows open at any one time.
Sort results in Grid View by clicking the column header (or by choosing Sort from
the column's dropdown menu).
Sort on multiple columns by consecutively sorting columns in reverse order.
For example, to view results sorted by Country and Province/State, first sort by
Province/State and then sort again by Country.
For any column you can choose to sort in Ascending or Descending order.
Export all or selected results by clicking the Export Results as CSV button in the
bottom toolbar in Grid
or Gallery View.
Select individual records for Export by checking the export selection box
(along the left edge of the Grid View grid).
Clear all selections with the Clear Selections button in the bottom toolbar.
Results are exported as comma-separated-values, one record per line, which can be saved
to disk or opened directly with applications such as Microsoft Excel.
You can also export all or selected results to a KML file for viewing with Google Earth or other KML viewers, by clicking the Export as KML button. This button is grayed when all or selected results lack latitude/longitude values.
Here are a few search tips:
Query results are limited to 10000 records. Avoid very general queries that
return very large numbers of records, e.g. searching for poaceae.
You can choose which columns to display in the Grid View of your search results.
Move your pointer to any column header and click on the dropdown arrow. Scroll
to Columns and then check or uncheck column names to show or hide those
columns in the grid.
To create a link to specific records at NMNH provide a querystring for:
where QUERYSTRING is (use a plus-sign to separate case-insensitive terms):
One or more CATALOG NUMBERS, e.g.
One or more BARCODES, e.g.
The NAME of a specimen, e.g.:
The NAME of a TYPE specimen, e.g.:
A GENERAL query, searching on any combination of: NAME (qn), FAMILY (fm), TYPE STATUS (ts),
COLLECTOR (cr), COLLECTION (cn), EXPEDITION NAME (ex), or WITH IMAGES ONLY (io), e.g.:
To open the Collections Search to a specific search tab, e.g.
Tabs are numbered left to right, beginning with zero.
botany/?ti=3 (Type Register Search)
Please use the Feedback page to report problems you find with the data, or with using
these search pages.