The Chinese Virtual Herbarium (CVH)

A plant species is usually described from a type specimen which is stored in a herbarium. In trying to understand the Genus Primula, I look at Primula herbarium specimens which have been scanned and are available online on websites of herbariums around the world. Relevant websites can be found on my reference page. Sometimes a portal website is created that allows searching through specimens found at several herbariums. The Chinese Virtual Herbarium is a portal into many Chinese herbariums including PE (Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing), CDBI (Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chengdu), HITBC (Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Academia Sinica, Xishuangbanna), and LBG (Lushan Botanical Garden, Lushan). The herbarium codes can be determined through the Index Herbariorum website.
Logos for the herbariums accessible through the CVH
Ok, so you can't read Chinese! Don't panic, as Google Translate does a pretty good job of translating the Chinese to English (or another language). Just type in the URL in the left box, select Chinese for the language, select English on the right box and click the Translate button. You will see that the CVH search box is capable of using the Scientific name, Chinese name, Collection Number, Collection Location, or the Herbarium Barcode Number. Unfortunately, you can't then use the translated website to enter your data in, just the Chinese version.

Search by Species Name
The easiest search is by leaving the first search type selected (indicated by the black dot) which is search by Species Name, enter the species name and click the green search button. This gives you a list of specimens found at various herbariums for that species. It includes specimens which have scanned images, indicated by a camera symbol. Above is an example using Primula falcifolia. Three of the herbarium sheets are scanned and by clicking on the Herbarium Barcode in the first column a new tab will open with information about the specimen and an image of the sheet. At the bottom of the image is "大图下载 " which is a link to the largest sized version of the image (though often this isn't much bigger). Generally, the scans aren't of high quality, but that should improve over time. Copy and paste the URL for the sheet into Google Translate to get a rough indication of the details for the specimen. Often the translation for locations is too literal, and some sleuthing is required to figure them out exactly (see tab information below).

Original description of Primula homogama
The other type of search I use frequently is by Collection Number (third search type selected, indicated by the black dot). This is the number used by the collector and for types, is listed in the original description. Why would I use this when I can just put in the species name? Sometimes the herbarium sheets are stored under incorrect or unverified names which differ. For example, typing in "Primula homogama" using the species name search returns two results at this time, but neither are type collections. Using the number "31478" which is listed in the original description of Primula homogama above, 28 records are found of various Genera, all with the collection number "31478", but also including four Primula sheets, two under the name "Primula incisa" and two under the name "primula nutantiflora". In theory these four sheets are of the same collection and should be identified the same and the identification should all be Primula homogama. Note that the search results can be viewed by the herbarium barcode (default, first tab) or by number of sheets in each herbarium (second tab),  thumbnails of the specimens with images (third tab), or by map with specimen location shown (fourth tab, I am not sure how accurate this is).

Tip: Copy and Paste the Chinese characters for the Chinese name of a species (see the Flora of China website) and use that to search for images.


Post a Comment