The type collection at the SD Herbarium contains about 400 specimens of vascular plants. High resolution images are available to search of all our type specimens.
The type collection at the SD Herbarium contains about 500 specimens. As in the general herbarium collection, the emphasis of the type collection is on plants of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico. Because the San Diego Society of Natural History dates back to the earliest scientific explorations of these regions, our collection holds types collected by pioneer botanists like Daniel Cleveland, Charles Orcutt, Edward Palmer, Townshend S. and Katherine Brandegee, and others.
Taxonomic strengths of the collection naturally reflect the interests of researchers associated with the department. Our strong holdings in the Cactaceae result from the work of George Lindsay, Reid Moran, and Jon Rebman. Dr. Moran's research produced many types in the Crassulaceae. We also have a large set of Eriogonum types given to us by James Reveal.
In addition to the type specimens, we have about 50 photographs of type specimens held at other institutions, mostly in the research specialty areas of the department staff.
A type specimen is the single specimen, or any one of a set of specimens, designated in the original publication of a new scientific name as representing the organism that is being named. Any later researcher working on the taxonomy of that or related organisms needs to find and examine as much of the original type material as possible, in order to understand the work that has gone before. This database will make it easier for others to find and use our material.
In addition, it is a way for us to solve some of our mysteries. Like most type collections, ours includes some specimens for which the status is ambiguous--perhaps because the specimen was labeled as a type but no publication of the name has been found, or because the label information is not adequate to identify it as definitely being one of the type set. A researcher who is a specialist in the group of plants to which a possible type specimen belongs can help clear up the mystery one way or the other, but only if he or she knows it exists!