Loan Policy

Please note that a digitization project is underway; loans may take longer to process and access to the vascular plant collection may be interrupted during this time.

Requesting Specimens for Loan

  • Requests for loans are only considered from botanical institutions recognized in Index Herbariorum and not from individuals. All requests are screened by the Curatorial and Research Associate, and/or the managers and curators to ensure that proper guidelines are met.
  • Loans are not made for the purpose of providing material for routine identifications, nor for the capture of label data. Label data for a limited number of specimens will be provided gratis. Large amounts of label data can be provided on an at-cost basis, usually through the employment of student assistants.

Removal of Material from Herbarium Specimens

  • Materials must not be removed from herbarium specimens for palynological, anatomical, chemical or molecular studies without obtaining permission prior to the shipment of the loan.
  • Researchers with requests for any destructive sampling of herbarium specimens must obtain and submit a Destructive Sampling Policy Authorization Form (PDF) before specimens are loaned. The form may be submitted along with the loan request or send separately to or mailed to the Director.

Loan Conditions

  • All the conditions listed in the Guidelines documents must be able to be met by the receiving institution. Guidelines for Handling Loans from the HUH (pdf) and Guidelines for Handling Loans from the Farlow Herbarium (pdf).
  • Loans are made without charge or service fee. It is expected that the borrowing institution will pay the costs of return shipment and ship them back the same way they were originally sent.
  • Loans are made for a period of one year. If further time is required, an extension may be requested by the Curator/Director of the institution by writing to or to the Director of the Harvard University Herbaria.
  • Transfers may be made only with the prior written consent of Harvard Herbaria. They are made only to recognized institutions and not to individuals. Permission for transfer is made on a case-by-case basis.

Loan Procedures

  • Receipt of the material should be acknowledged by the borrowing institution. Please mark any discrepancies in count or pertinent notes on the condition of the loan on the on the acknowledgement form. This for can be returned by post or scanned in an email and sent to
  • An information sheet, Guidelines for Handling Loans or Guidelines for Handling Loans from the Farlow Herbarium, is sent with every loan. Please give this to the researcher upon receipt of the material.
  • Returned material should be packed well to insure safe transit, i.e., well wrapped in secure bundles, the bundles interleaved with corrugated cardboard to reinforce the sides of the box. A shipping notice should be included with each returned loan. Partial returns are encouraged only when a significant portion of the loan can be returned; returns of less than 10% of the total are discouraged.
  • Copies of publications based upon our collections, or notification of such publications, are much appreciated. Electronic copies can be emailed to or paper copies can be mailed to the Director.