Biodiv Sci ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (12): 1345-1352.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2016230

• Data Paper • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Principles behind designing herbarium specimen labels and the R package ‘herblabel’

Jinlong Zhang*, Huiling Zhu, Jingang Liu, Gunter A. Fischer   

  1. Flora Conservation Department, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong
  • Received:2016-08-23 Revised:2016-12-12 Online:2016-12-20 Published:2017-01-10
  • Contact: Jinlong Zhang


Voucher specimens are essential for plant taxonomy, ecology, and plant molecular biology. Collection and identification information should be clearly, accurately and formally printed on herbarium labels, without confusion or spelling mistakes. During the preparation of the labels, data entry should be straight-forward and easy to manage. Ideally, the herbarium label printing software should conduct a thorough evaluation to avoid potential errors, and should issue warnings accordingly. By taking these principles into account, we developed the herblabel R package for generating herbarium labels based on Darwin Core and CVH5.0 data exchange standards. During the implementation of herblabel, the spelling and status of scientific names and the family-genera relationship are compared with the embedded databases to determine potential mistakes or incongruence against APG or other new classification systems. As the template is based on Darwin Core exchange standards, the database could not only be used to generate summaries and reports but also could be shared via GBIF or virtual herbaria. This package will increase efficiency and reduce workload for herbarium specimen preparation, management, and data entry, and should play an important role in cataloging plant diversity.

Key words: herbarium, specimens, label, R package, spelling, APG III, Darwin Core