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Zürich Herbaria

Research projects


Digitisation of the entire Gentianaceae collection of the United Herbaria Zurich Z+ZT

The Gentianaceae family (ca. 1,800 species and 100 genera) occurs on all continents and in a wide range of habitats. In Switzerland, most taxa occupy fragile or threatened vegetation types. Within the United Herbaria of the University of Zurich (Z) and ETH Zurich (ZT), the Gentianaceae family comprises ca. 25,000 vouchers, of which half (52%) are indigenous. Thanks to a recent inventory of our holdings, we know that 58 genera are represented in our herbaria and that the majority of the specimens (51%) are assigned to the emblematic genus Gentiana. We also estimate that more than 40% of the 727 inventoried species need to be corrected due to determination errors or obsolete nomenclature. This outdated classification notably prevents the integration of an important donation from 2020. We therefore propose to revise the integrity of the Gentianaceae family and simultaneously digitise (i.e. image, transcribe and georeference) all the specimens.
This project is financially supported by the ETH Library and the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT).


Digital mobilisation and curation of Type specimens in the bryophyte collection of the United Herbaria Zurich Z+ZT

More than 1,000 type specimens of bryophytes are hidden in the collection of the United Herbaria Zurich Z+ZT. Type specimens are preserved specimens that have been used to describe new species or subspecies. These type specimens are the physical evidence for the occurrence of organisms on our planet. They are therefore the most important specimens in our collections.
In this project, these hidden type specimens of bryophytes will be awakened from their slumber. In a first step, they will be professionally curated in order to protect them permanently from damage and loss. Then they will be photographed and the information on the labels is recorded in a database. Finally, all the information gathered will be made available online through several channels.

This project has been completed.
The records and photos are available online in the specimen search of the Zurich herbaria and on the GBIF portal.
The project was supported by SwissCollNet.


Digitalisierung 2019-2021

2019-2021 digitisation project at the vascular plant collection

Within the scope of the 2015-2020 strategy, the ETH Library supports a complete inventory of the vascular plant collection of the United Herbaria Z+ZT, as well as the digitisation of specimens from the canton Valais with the help of citizen scientists. The project consists of three subprojects:

  1. Complete inventory of the vascular plant collection, in order to reorganise the herbarium according to most recent phylogenetic findings in a subsequent stage.
  2. Digitisation of up to 150,000 records from approximately 1,800 species from the canton of Valais and data enhancement in collaboration with an ongoing "citizen-science" project (
  3. Mounting and digitisation of 12,000 specimens from the herbarium of Gilbert Bocquet with a special focus on the Mediterranean.

Already digitised specimens can be accessed through the database of the United Herbaria Z+ZT.


Digital recording of the bryophyte collection Dr. J. Amann (1859-1939)

The herbaria Z+ZT are in possession of a very valuable historical bryophyte collection: the "Bryotheca Helvetica" by Dr. J. Amann. It comprises approximately 29,000 specimens from Switzerland (20,000), Europe (6,000), and more distant countries (3,000). The specimens from Switzerland were the basis for the first flora on mosses in Switzerland (Amann et al. 1918) and were collected in as many parts of the country as possible. Furthermore, his collection comprises more than 300 type specimens of the taxa he has described. The bequest of Dr. J. Amann is part of the collections and archives of the ETH Zurich and will now be recorded digitally with financial support of the ETH library. The work on this project runs from July 2019 until May 2022. Specimens already processed can be viewed publicly in the online collection of the herbaria Z+ZT. We are looking forward to accessing this important collection digitally!

Botanik im Saastal

2016-2018 Digitisation project within the vascular plant collections

Within the scope of the 2015-2020 strategy, the ETH Library supports the digitisation and publication of 100'000 vascular plant specimens from the United Herbaria Z+ZT based on the latest standards and optimised workflows. The project is divided into three subprojects:

  1. Release of a hitherto inaccessible collection: The approximately 6'000 specimens assembled by Hans Hess from Angola will be mounted, labelled and digitised, before being made publicly accessible through our web portal, along with relevant metadata.
  2. Establishment of international imaging standards: Thanks to two digitisation stations and state-of-the-art imaging equipment, all 15'000 type specimens housed at the United Herbaria Z+ZT are going to be photographed and made freely accessible through our webpage.
  3. Annual management and release of 100'000 herbarium records: The establishment of an efficient digitisation workflow will enable us to re-organise and catalogue all estimated 85'000 records of the family Brassicaceae from our collections. With the help of (citizen) scientists, taxonomic revisions and relevant metadata will be incorporated, to promote the use of these specimens in future research projects.

Some botanical curiosities discovered throughout our digitisation efforts have been presented by Dr. Guilhem Mansion (in English or French).

Herbar Hürlimann



Digital recording of the bryophyte collection Hans Hürlimann

The private bryophyte collection of Hans Hürlimann comprises around 4,800 specimens and was handed over to the herbaria Z+ZT in 2008. Besides specimens from Switzerland, it includes samples from numerous European countries and almost all other continents. The specimens were collected between 1937 and 2003. With financial support of the Foundation for the Promotion of Plant Knowledge, the specimens are now photographed and recorded digitally. The already processed specimens can be viewed publicly in the the online collection of the herbaria Z+ZT. The project will be completed by the end of 2018.

Botanik im Saastal

Botanical tourism in Saastal

The herbarium Keller-Naegeli (HKN), originally one of the largest private plant collections in Switzerland, is part of the United Herbaria Z+ZT. HKN amongst other focused their attention on the valleys around Visp in Valais. The project on botanical tourism in Saastal is an important step in the processing of this herbarium. Together with the written and photographic documents obtained, the historical plants provide a valuable insight into the cultural history of botanical collection.


Moosflora of Switzerland

The project "Moosflora der Schweiz" aims at providing electronic access to photographs and data on the morphology, ecology and distribution of all 1'100 mosses occurring in Switzerland. The United Herbaria Z+ZT have extensive bryological collections that are made available for the study of morphological features and the preparation of pictures for this project. The historical data further provide important information on the earlier distribution of the species.


Flora of the Canton of Zurich

The project "Flora des Kantons Zürich" is intended to systematically record the plants diversity in this Canton. The project does not only focus on the actual biodiversity, but also on historical plant distribution. The United Herbaria Z+ZT constitute an important source of historical data. We therefore support the project "FloZ" by actively participating in the collection of historical findings from the Canton of Zurich.

Weiterführende Informationen


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