The Economic Herbarium of Oakes Ames consists of about 40,000 specimens of economically important plants of cultivated and wild origin. The Herbarium was a part of the Botanical Museum, which also included the Economic Botany Collections, the Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants, the Paleobotanical Collection, the Economic Botany Library and Archives, the Orchid Library of Oakes Ames and Herbarium, and the Archives of the Oakes Ames Orchid Library. The collection can be searched on the specimen database.
The history of the Economic Herbarium can be traced back to 1918, when Oakes Ames donated his collection of economic botany products to Harvard University, including a large herbarium. Since then, the collection has increased considerably, especially from the ethnobotanical research of Prof. Richard E. Schultes and his students in the Andes and the Amazon.
Use of the plant collections is enhanced by an Economic Botany Library and Economic Botany Archives, and the Economic Botany Historic Clipping File. Both the specimens and library support the Harvard University course "Plants and Human Affairs" that has been taught to Harvard students for over 100 years.