Botany Cabinet

The Collection

The Carnegie Museum herbarium has significant worldwide holdings as well as the best representation in any herbarium of specimens from western Pennsylvania and the Upper Ohio Basin. Outside of the immediate region for which the museum's collection is the best in the world, the greatest number of specimens are from the rest of North America (especially arctic Canada, southeastern US, and western US), followed by Latin America and Asia. Please see the Visits & Loans page for information about scheduling a visit.

Type Collection

Carnegie Museum of Natural History's herbarium has approximately 3,000 type specimens representing about 0.6 % of the collection. Type specimens from the collection are available in a Collections Online website.

Included in the museum's type specimens are:

  • Collections of C.G. Pringle from Mexico
  • Collections of H.H. Smith from Columbia
  • Collections of A.D.E. Elmer from Malaysia
  • Collections of E. Palmer from Mexico
  • Collections of M. Bang from Bolivia M. Ownbey's uniform-garden Allium (Liliaceae) collections, which includes many cytovouchers and types, a donation arranged by Research Associate Terry Jacobsen, one of Ownbey's last graduate students.
  • Types of Crataegus (Rosaceae) species from western Pennsylvania described by C.S. Sargent (Thomas & Boufford 1986).
  • The private herbarium of Hannibal and Tyrecca Davis containing 20,000 specimens with a concentration on Rubus (Rosaceae). The Rubus collection includes topotypes, material compared to types, type photographs, and life history specimens with floricanes, primocanes, and other growth stages (Anonymous 1987; Davis 1990; Utech 1990).
Botany prints in drawer

Botany Database

The herbarium has more than 500,000 specimens. Data from all of these specimens have been captured into an electronic relational database, including all plants from Pennsylvania, type material, and all collections made by current staff. See the collection online. 


For those who cannot study specimens onsite, please visit the Visits & Loans page for information about the herbarium's loan policy.

Avinoff Wildflower Paintings

In 1941 Carnegie Museum of Natural History Director Andrey Avinoff began an ambitious project with friend and Curator of Botany Otto E. Jennings. They wanted to describe and illustrate the flora of western Pennsylvania, based on Jennings’ lifelong study of the region. Jennings and his colleagues brought in the living plants, fresh and unwithered. Avinoff worked quickly to capture accurately the color and manner of growth. Most of these specimens were then dried, pressed, and placed as vouchers in the herbarium. Selected Avinoff reprints are available for purchase ($25). Call 412.622.3253.

Slide Collection (35mm)

We have approximately 35,000 slides donated mainly by Virginia Phelps, Wayne Harpster, Otto Jennings, and Werner Buker, all patrons of botany. These slides are available for study and may be loaned for short periods. Call 412.622.3253 to make an appointment.