Those Herbarium United Specimens

OK, this is only for the specialist, but there are lessons here for any fellow VCRs reading this.

N.B. The specimen descriptions have now been updated on the herbariaunited database.  University of Birmingham  Vaccinium uliginosum

The herbarium sheet gives location as mountain near Luib.  This has been catalogued as Luib, Skye but this species has never been recorded in VC104.

However, Luib, Stirling in NN42 is in the centre of the known distribution for this species.

This specimen was collected in July 1876.

There are three other specimens from Luib in July 1876 all also in the University of Birmingham Herbarium: Saxifraga hypnoides presented by Mr Langley Kitching  Pedicularis palustris presented by Mr Langley Kitching  Polystichum lonchitis presented by Mr Langley Kitching

The first two of these just say Luib (handwritten) as per the Vaccinium specimen but the last says Luib (Ross & Cromarty).  Is this a later assumption?  And why say Ross & Cromarty rather than Skye?

These three are eminently possible in Skye or Stirling.

As well as the above three, there is one further specimen by Langley Kitching, supposedly from VC104:  Linnaea borealis from “Top of Glen Dale, Island of Skye (?)”

This is unlikely on distributional grounds.

On balance I suggest all five of these specimens are unlikely to have come from Skye.

Which leads me to: catalogued as Festuca ovina from Luib.

The sheet appears to say Uig not Luib and the collector, E. F. Linton was certainly in Uig on 6 Aug 1884, the date of the specimen – as is known from specimens in other herbaria.

Also, it was originally described as Festuca glauca which would place it within F. rubra rather than F. ovina – and as far as one can tell from the image it probably is F. rubra.

All this makes me realise that I should spend some time looking at the other specimens assigned to VC 104 in Herbariaunited.

2 Responses to “Those Herbarium United Specimens”

  1. Tom Humphrey Says:

    Stephen kindly contacted me by email about these problem sheets, so I’ve fixed the mistakes he refers to above.

    I’d like to reiterate his point that records from herbarium@home need to be checked carefully. While the majority are correct there are bound to be quite numerous mistakes. The positive thing, is that spotting most errors should be straightforward, because you have access to a photo of the original herbarium specimen.

    If you find problems then please let me know by email, or log in to the website ( ) and correct the sheets yourself.

    There will definitely be some interesting new records among the data, so it is worth having a close look at new herb@home data every so often.



  2. Stephen Says:

    Thanks Tom. I was about to add a post that you had taken account of my comments very swiftly and I am much encouraged to check all the other VC104 specimens. Stephen

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