The tenth largest herbarium in the United States
The combined Herbarium of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and Pomona College ("RSA-POM") is the tenth largest in the U.S. and the third largest in the western U.S., with current holdings totaling over 1,100,000 specimens.
Approximately 95 percent of the collection is composed of mounted sheets which are housed in four rooms (wings) within the Plant Science Center Building. The RSABG's herbarium is recognized throughout the world for its strength in plants of California, which constitute nearly 50 percent of the total collection. The holdings from Southern California exceed 250,000 and are unsurpassed by any other herbarium. Active collecting over many decades means that the specimens are well distributed through time as well as in their geographic origin. In recognition of its overall strength, RSA-POM has been designated a national Research Resource Collection.
The RSA-POM herbarium is an active member of the Consortium of California Herbaria. Unpaid internships are available in the herbarium throughout the year.
Total holdings: Over 1,100,000 specimens.
Type specimens: 6,500 specimens
Specialties: California, southwestern U.S., Mexico - especially Baja California, Australia and other arid regions.
Other specialties include: Russia and former U.S.S.R. republics; Australasia and other Pacific; Cactaceae; Crossosomataceae; Goodeniaceae; Midaceae; Poaceae; Polemoniaceae; Restionaceae; Stylidiaceae; Arctostaphylos; Astragalus; Camissonia; Ceanothus, Cupressus; Iris; Ranunculus; aquatic phanerogams
Important collections include: C. F. Baker, R. C. Barneby, L. Benson, S. Boyd, A. Davidson, C. Davidson, P. H. Davis, M. DeDecker, M. B. Dunkle, F. R. Fosberg, H. S. Gentry, V. Grant, R. Gustafson, G. B. Hinton, E. C. Jaeger, M. E. Jones, C. L. Lundell, Y. E. J. Mexia, P. A. Munz, E. Palmer, F. W. Peirson, C. G. Pringle, P. H. Raven, J. C. Roos, T. S. Ross, A. C. Sanders, R. F. Thorne, L. C. Wheeler, and C. B. Wolf.
Navigate to our download research forms page to download the destructive sampling policy.
RSABG Herbarium Collection Policy
Policy: In accordance with its mission statement, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden will develop, assemble, document and maintain preserved botanical collections (herbarium). The purpose of this document is to guide, direct and manage the development of these collections at the Garden.
Legal and Ethical Consideration: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden's collections, collecting policies, procedures, and activities strive to comply with all relevant international, national, state and local laws, and trustee policies and directives regarding these collections and collecting activities (e.g., CITES, ESA, etc.). All collections and collecting activities will comply and be consistent with the trustee approved Code of Ethics (1998 revision).
Purpose: The herbarium collections support the RSABG's mission and its programs in conservation, education, horticulture and research.
Scope of the Collections: The RSA herbarium holdings are defined as those specimens belonging to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, and the collections formerly belonging to Pomona College. The herbarium seeks to provide as complete a representation of different vascular plant families and genera as possible. Holdings includes traditional herbarium mounts, fluid-preserved specimens, boxed or bagged cones and fruit, wood, root, and bark samples, and microscopic slides of anatomical and pollen preparations. The geographic coverage of the RSA herbarium is worldwide, however, primary emphasis is given to plants from California, Mexico, western North America, and other world areas of Mediterranean, arid, and semiarid climates.
Acquisition: The primary goal of the acquisitions policy is to guide development of the RSA herbarium as a representative world collection of vascular plant taxa by the incorporation of specimens acquired through judicious collecting, exchanges, accepted gifts, incorporation of "orphan" collections, and purchases.
The general policies governing herbarium acquisitions are as follows:
- RSA holdings are defined as those specimens belonging to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSA), and the collections formally donated to the Garden by Pomona College (POM).
- Specimens from throughout the world will be accessioned.
- Specimens in general must be of high quality, and with adequate labels; otherwise substandard material may be accepted at the discretion of the Curator.
- An effort will be made to avoid exact collection number duplications whenever possible.
- Geographic duplication is acceptable within reason, as a thorough geographic coverage documents natural variation.
- Initiation of new exchange agreements with institutions or individuals will be on a selective basis at the discretion of the Curator of the Herbarium.
- Donations of specimens to the herbarium (including incorporation of orphaned herbaria) will be accepted, but must meet established specimen quality criteria.
- Unless otherwise stipulated, all gifts become the property of RSA. In all cases, the ultimate disposition of the specimens will be at the discretion of the curator of the Herbarium. Donors of material should be informed of this policy, and that RSA reserves the right to dispose of any donated specimens at the discretion of the Curator of the Herbarium.
- Collections may be acquired on a fee per specimen basis at the discretion of the Curator of the Herbarium.
- All financial arrangements surrounding the purchase of specimens should be fully established and documented prior to receiving specimens, and must be in concordance with other established RSABG fiscal policies.
- Collections of voucher specimens documenting experimental and other studies will be accepted at the discretion of the Curator of the Herbarium.
- RSA will strive to determine that all specimens accessioned were legally collected and will not knowingly accept illegally collected material, unless deposited by a state or federal agency with accompanying documentation authorizing RSA to possess the specimens.
Utilization: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden's herbarium collections are to be used to support the Garden's mission and other appropriate conservation, education, horticulture and research activities. Use and utilization of the Garden's herbarium collections will be consistent with the community norms and standards for each type of collection. In general, destructive sampling will be permitted only to an extent that ensures no significant reduction in the overall quality of the accession/specimen will result from such utilization.
Access: The content / catalog of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden herbarium collections should be as widely accessible as possible. The Garden's philosophy is to encourage and facilitate access to, and use of, the herbarium collections to the greatest extent possible. Given the sensitive nature and security issues involved with some of these collections, however, access to the collections and their associated records may be limited at the discretion of the Curator of the Herbarium.
Records and Inventory: Appropriate records will be maintained, and periodic inventories conducted for the herbarium collections. Collection records include (but are not limited to) documentation of provenance, accessions, deaccessions, exchanges, gifts, purchases, loans. The development of a comprehensive, readily accessible catalogue of the herbarium collections is an institutional goal.
Collection Conservation: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden will strive to fully implement and comply with the Trustee approved Long Range Conservation Plan (2002 revision).
Deaccession: Accessions may be removed from the collections (deaccessioned) under any of the following conditions:
- When they are no longer appropriate to the scope of the herbarium collection.
- When they are damaged beyond reasonable repair.
- When they are missing (lost, stolen or destroyed).
- When they no longer retain value for their intended purpose.
- When they are unnecessary duplicates.
- When the legal owner requests return of material on indefinite loan.
All records and data relating to deaccessioned herbarium material will be maintained in perpetuity. Deaccessioning is the responsibility of curator of the Herbarium.
Deaccessioned material may be disposed of in the following ways:
- Deaccessioned material may be exchanged with an individual, corporation, nonprofit or government entity.
- Deaccessioned material may be sold. Proceeds from the sale of deaccessioned material and/or collection assets will be used solely to augment the affected collection.
- Deaccessioned material may be given to an individual, corporation, nonprofit or government entity.
- As a last resort, as in the case of irreparably damaged specimens, deaccessioned herbarium material may be thrown away. Decisions relating to the disposal of deaccessioned material(s) with a commercial value of up to one hundred dollars is the responsibility of either the program manager or curator of each collection. Disposal of deaccessioned material(s) with a commercial value in excess of one hundred dollars will be made with the consultation and documented approval of the Garden's executive director, or board of trustees.
Loans: Loans are the formal, temporary transfer of specimens to outside researchers or institutions. Specimens from the RSA herbarium are available for use on loan to researchers at outside institutions. Similarly, the RSA herbarium is responsible for managing loans from outside institutions which have been sent for use by Garden staff, students and research associates.
The general policies governing loans of RSA herbarium specimens are as follows:
- Loans are made to institutions, not individuals.
- Institutions receiving loans must be able to ensure their storage facilities are sufficient to provide RSA specimens an appropriate level of care and protection.
- A loan of specimens will be authorized only after receiving a formal request for the material from the director, curator or collection manager of the herbarium to which the loan will be sent.
- Loans of RSA specimens are made for one year, unless otherwise authorized by the Curator of the Herbarium.
- Extensions of loan periods may be granted at the discretion of the curator of the herbarium following receipt of formal request from the director, curator or collection manager of the herbarium to which the loan was be sent. S
- pecimens sent on loan may be recalled at any time by the Curator of the Herbarium. Institutional need for RSA herbarium specimens supersedes any and all requests for loans to outside institutions. Loans may be transferred to another institution at the discretion of the curator of the Herbarium pending receipt of formal request from both the original and new borrowing institutions.
The general policies governing loans of herbarium specimens sent to RSA are as follows:
- Loans are made to institutions, not individuals, therefore requests for loans must be submitted by the curator of the Herbarium.
- Specimens received on loan must be housed according to the basic standards for all RSA herbarium specimens.
- Loans must be returned promptly upon the expiration of the lending institutions stated loan period, or upon receipt of request for immediate return of the loan.
- All specimens received on loan will be properly annotated prior to return.
- Exchanges: Exchanges are the formal reciprocal transfer of specimen(s), or other collection material(s) between Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and other institutions or individuals.
- Formal exchange programs are designed to build and augment institutional holdings. Decisions to initiate or curtail exchange agreements are at the discretion of the curator of the Herbarium.
Gifts: Gifts are the unconditional, unilateral transfer of ownership of specimen(s), or other collection material(s) between Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden and other institutions or individuals. Gifts are typically given with the intent of augmenting the holdings of outside institutions, or supporting research and activities consistent with the mission of the Garden. Gifts to the herbarium collections at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden are typically accepted with the expressed intent of augmenting the Garden? existing collections in a manner consistent with the herbarium's collection policy
Destructive Sampling Policy
The removal of plant fragments from RSA-POM specimens for genetic/morphological/anatomical studies will be permitted only to an extent that ensure no significant reduction in the overall quality of the specimen resulting from such utilization. While the value of specimens for these kind of research is understood, the quality of the collection is undoubtedly impacted.
Navigate to our download research forms page to download the destructive sampling policy.
RSABG Herbarium History
When Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden was founded in 1927 at the original location in Santa Ana Canyon, botanists J.T. Howell and later Carl B. Wolf, with the help of Ernest Johnson, set about building the holdings of the newly established herbarium. Because RSABG is a native plant garden, collections were initially made only in California, but soon expanded to include the western U.S. By the mid-1940s, the collection had grown to over 30,000 specimens.
Independently, and starting as early as 1904, the herbarium of Pomona College was established upon the large private herbarium of Charles Fuller Baker. Starting in 1917, under the guidance of Philip A. Munz, the Pomona collection blossomed. The highlight was the incorporation of another large private herbarium, that of Marcus E. Jones. Jones was a major force in botany of western America during the late 1800s and early 1900s who described many new species based on specimens in his collection.
After a full career at Pomona College, Munz became director of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in 1946. Among his visions were to bring the Garden to Claremont and to eventually integrate the Garden's herbarium with that of Pomona College to form one larger, stronger, more encompassing collection. In 1951, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden moved to the Claremont site, and the Pomona College specimens were brought to the Garden to be housed nearby, but they still remained separate from those of RSA. It was not until the mid to late 1960s that his dream was fulfilled with the complete integration of the two collections.
The 1960s and 1970s were a time of considerable growth of the RSA holdings under the guidance of curator emeritus, Robert F. Thorne. Thorne worked toward the expansion of the worldwide emphasis to include all flowering plant families, but was also very active in building the California holdings. Growth continued in the 1980's, highlighted by the acquisition and incorporation of the seed plant collections from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (LAM). Included among these were the former holdings of University of Southern California (USC) and Alan Hancock Foundation (AHFH) herbaria. These specimens were especially rich in historic specimens from southern California and were an invaluable addition to the Garden's holdings.
The rapid growth experienced during the 1980s necessitated expanding and upgrading the facilities and space-saving "compactor" systems were installed with the assistance of grants from the National Science Foundation. Unfortunately, we have now maximized all available space for specimen storage and growth of the collections must be carefully monitored until a new herbarium wing is built. Current growth is about 10,000 specimens per year, mounted largely by volunteers. At this rate, there is comfortable room for fewer than 10 more years of growth.
Today the herbarium maintains a small synoptic collection of Lichens donated by Kerry Knudsen (UCR), however the main collection is restricted to vascular plants. Macrofungi, algae, lichens, and bryophytes from RSA - POM (about 25 000 specimens) were transferred to Los Angeles Museum in the 1980’s and from where they were transferred to Berkeley (UC). Research specimens of Dr. R. K. Benjamin research (Laboulbeniales and Zygomycetes) transferred to Harvard University (FH).
During the last decade, the herbarium has incorporated the orphaned collections of: California State Polytechnic University of Pomona (CSPU) in 2000 (ca 4,500 vascular plant specimens); Los Angeles Museum (LAM) in 2003 (ca 9,300 vascular cryptogams); and Santa Ana College in 2004 (ca 5,500 vascular plant specimens).
Today the herbarium is increasingly becoming an electronic resource as well as a physical resource. Herbarium specimen data is available through the Consortium of California Herbaria. We are also working on the digitization of our Type specimens (see projects tab). Herbarium staff continue the tradition of active floristic research in Southern California.
RSA-POM Specimen Database: We have now completed databasing our specimens from Southern California (the southern 10 counties). These data greatly enhance accessibility to the herbarium's collection. It is relatively easy to extract data for a particular mountain range or county. Search out southern California records online via the California Consortium of Herbaria.
Digitization of Type Specimens: In 2008 the Mellon Foundation funded the digitization of our typical specimens as part of the Latin American Partners Initiative (LAPI). This project includes five other local institutions from the southern node of the Consortium of California Herbaria whose type specimens will be scanned here at RSA: Huntington Botanical Garden (HNT), San Diego Natural History Museum (SD), Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG), University of California Riverside (UCR), University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB). Read more about the digitization project on the Garden news blog.
Georeferencing: In 2008, working as a southern node for the Consortium of California Herbaria we began georeferencing specimens of invasive species from Southern California herbaria. This project was funded by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
LAM Ferns: In February of 2004, the vascular cryptogamic collection of the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum herbarium (LAM) was transferred and integrated into the collection at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSA-POM). Some 9400 specimens were integrated in this transfer. Along with the specimens, came two websites once hosted by LAM. These now reside on the RSA-POM herbarium website, care of Kenneth Wilson.
To reach the herbarium please call (909) 625-8767, ext. 244.
Staff with direct extensions are listed below.
Duncan Bell, Field Botanist, (909) 625-8767, ext. 219
Kitty Blassey, Curatorial Assistant I
Grace Cho, Curatorial Assistant I
Joy England, Curatorial Assistant II, (909) 625-8767, ext. 207
Naomi Fraga, Conservation Botanist, (909) 625-8767, ext. 231
Erika Gardner, Herbarium Workroom Manager, (909) 625-8767, ext. 233
LeRoy Gross, Senior Curatorial Assistant, (909) 625-8767, ext. 264
Jackie McConnaughy, Curatorial Assistant I
Joshua Paolini, Curatorial Assistant I
Jennifer Pilapil, Curatorial Assistant I
Tommy Stoughton, Seeds of Success Coordinator, (909) 625-8767 ext. 204
The RSA-POM Herbarium is open to the public Monday through Friday 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. If you are a first-time visitor it is recommended that you call (909) 625-8767, or contact the Herbarium staff before your visit. Please visit the overview of our collection and collections policy. Please be aware that destructive sampling requires prior permission.