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MBLWHOI Library Herbarium

Rhodomela specimen

About the Collection

The MBLWHOI Library Herbarium (SPWH), formerly the Marine Biological Laboratory Herbarium, documents the flora of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and adjacent islands. The collection, dating back to the 1870s, consists of more than 9,000 specimens.

The Cape Cod is a region of great botanical and ecological interest. It is well known to botanists as a phytogeographic boundary between the cold water flora typical of more northerly regions, and the flora of warmer waters to the south. The Cape is also unique in the number of marine algal species found there. The herbarium collection, dating back to the 1850s, documents this important and diverse flora.

Accessing the Collection

The MBLWHOI Library Herbarium is cataloging and digitizing the entire physical collection. The images and metadata are fully searchable from the Consortium of Northeastern Herbaria web portal, serving as an online compendium of the marine, freshwater and terrestrial flora of Cape Cod and the Islands. Data may also be downloaded upon registering for the website. Use the CNH Text-based Search Portal to search through selected herbarium collections.

The MBLWHOI Library Herbarium is housed at the Data Library & Archives, McLean Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Quissett Campus. Visits to the Herbarium are available by appointment only. Contact the Herbarium at 508-289-4948.

Contact Information


Members of the Botanical Club of Cape Cod and the Islands (BCCCI) contribute to the collections.

This work was supported, in part, by a small grant from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Sea Grant Program, Project No. A/S-47-PD.

Digitization of the marine algae collection is a joint project with the Northeast Algal Society. Current taxonomy, authorities and species biological data, including descriptions of geographic range, habitat and seasonality, are taken from the NEAS Keys to Benthic Marine Algae of the Northeastern Coast of North America from Long Island Sound to the Strait of Belle Isle ©. The MBLWHOI Library thanks NEAS and James Sears for granting permission to use this data. Authority names for species not listed in the NEAS Keys are taken from AlgaeBase (Guiry and Nic Dhonncha, 2004).

The developers of vPlants" (a virtual herbarium of the Chicago region) provided valuable technical assistance and advice with regard to the selection and setup of scanning equipment. We gratefully acknowledge their assistance.

The MBLWHOI Library thanks the following people for their work on the Digital Herbarium Project:

  • Julie Child
  • Frank Child
  • Paul Freyheit
  • Sallie Giffen
  • Tom Gregg
  • Llewellya Hillis
  • Carol Knox
  • Nancy McDonald
  • Alan Perlmutter
  • Maggie Rioux
  • Arlene Rogers
  • Jan Salick
  • Nancy Stafford
  • Judy Stetson
  • Jacqueline Webster
  • Nancy Wigley
  • Margery Zinn

Learn More

More information on the development of the Digital Herbarium project can be obtained from the following document: Title: The MBLWHOI Library Digital Herbarium Authors: deVeer, Joseph M., Stout, Amy & Rioux, Margaret Issue Date: 2004 URL: From: IAMSLIC Conference Proceedings 2003 Presentations and Papers.

Dr. Richard H. Backus compiled a listing of the vascular plants of Falmouth: Vascular Flora of Falmouth (Barnstable Co.), Massachusetts.