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Databasing of collections information started in 2007 and is primarily due to the volunteer efforts of multiple students. Specify 6 is our database platform.

To date, 10,000+ records and 3000+ images have been generated. (Click here for details.) New collections are databased before being filed the first time, and older
collections as time allows.  

Images and abbreviated versions of collection records are searchable via the SERNEC portal of Symbiota.

    To search those records click here.

Collections from Greater Cincinnati (SE IN, S OH, and N KY) were databased separately as part of the Local Flora Project conducted by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's CREW.

    To search their records click here.

Can't find what you're looking for?
    E-mail the Director: whitsonma at

Student databasing collections label data
One of the first students to contribute to KNK databasing efforts, Kyra Schaffer enters label data from herbarium specimens into Specify.

Bringing the John W. Thieret Herbarium into the Digital Age



    Increase utility of the collections.
    Allow easier access to data.
    Encourage more users.


    1. Establish an online presence to improve access for off-site users.           
        KNK is registered with Index Herbariourm.
        KNK is a member of SERNEC
            (the SouthEast Regional Network of Expertise & Collections)
            and a data provider via their Symbiota portal.

    2. Update plant names to match modern usage.
        We follow the nomenclature used in Plant Life of Kentucky
            and Flora of North America.

    3. Assign a unique catalogue number to each specimen.
        Collections are barcoded when label information is databased.

    4. Database label information.
        Specify software is used as a databasing platform to catalogue label data.

Funding of Modernization Efforts

Research Enhancement Grant: Bringing the John W. Theiret Herbarium Collections into the Digital Age
    2007  Kentucky EPSCoR REG: $21,605

Funding allowed purchase of 40,000 barcodes and two barcode-scanners. It also covered hiring students to reorganize collections to match plant family names used in Plant Life of Kentucky, and for students to start entering label information into Specify.

Digitization TCN, Collaborative Research: The Key to the Cabinets: Building and Sustaining a Research Database for a Global Biodiversity Hotspot
    2014  NSF Digitization TCN: $770,889 across 100+ universities

Over 100 herbaria are taking part in this massive digitization project headed by Appalachian State University. Four Kentucky herbaria are involved, with EKY (Eastern Kentucky University) coordinating the work, and KNK (Northern Kentucky University), MDKY (Morehead State University), and MUR (Murrary State University) all contributing specimen images.

The goal is to collect high resolution images of over 3,000,000 plant specimens from the southeastern US (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). These images will be searchable by plant name and available online, providing a valuable resource for botanists, ecologists, land managers, and anyone else interested in the flora and plant communities of this botanically diverse region of the country.

This project is focused on imaging rather than databasing because it is faster to photograph a specimen than to type all of the label data into a database. Before being photographed, a specimen will be barcoded and a "skeletal" database record will be established for it. That will consist simply of the catalogue number (the barcode), the scientific name of the plant, and the state and county where it was collected. That will provide enough information for users to sort and search through the millions of images available. When viewed at full size, label information can be read off the image. The second component of this project will be to get citizen-scientists involved and let volunteers open the images, read the data on the labels, and enter that information into a database, so that eventually, there will be both an image and a full database record for every specimen.

This grant will fund the purchase of an imaging station for KNK (a high-resolution camera, a Photo E-box, and a computer for image editing and storage). It will also pay for student workers to barcode, skeletally database, and photograph approximately 30,000 specimens.