Plant material (fresh or dried) of cycads, conifers and flowering plants, as well as weeds and cultivated exotics are accepted for identification. The Compton Herbarium does not accept mosses, algae, lichens or mushrooms (fungi) for identification.

What to bring

Only well-prepared, good quality specimens will be accepted for identification. A good specimen comprises a fair sample of the plant, displaying its manner of growth, branching, etc. and should include stems, leaves, flowers and/or fruits, and underground parts (for bulbous, cormous, tuberous or rhizomatous plants only). A properly prepared label must accompany each specimen. The label must state where the plant was collected, giving the major, minor, and exact locality (e.g. Caledon, farm Groenland, 2 km east of town on road to Riviersonderend; Among rocks on southern aspect of outcrop behind homestead). A Global Positioning System (GPS) reading in degrees, minutes, and seconds (30°25’35″S, 25°35’25″E) will contribute to the value of the material as we may want to incorporate the collection into the herbarium. Any other useful information regarding the plant, e.g. habitat, plant height, flowering, fruiting, and leafing period, and colouring of flowers and fruits is advised.

Clients submitting large quantities of material must ensure that the material is properly pressed and dried before submission. Additional information on the proper preparation of specimens can be downloaded from Herbarium Essentials, The Southern African Herbarium User Manual published by SABONET. Before any dried material enters the herbarium building it must first be subjected to a process of decontamination by deep freezing the material at -4°C for a minimum of 48 hours to avoid the potential introduction of destructive insects. This facility is available at the Compton Herbarium.

Graphic material

Unless you wish to pay for professional identification from photographs, clients are advised to use the Ispot website for identification of all photographs of plants and animals.

The submission of graphic material to the herbarium is discouraged as it cannot be identified to the same level of accuracy as can fresh/dried plant material. However, good quality graphic material will be considered for identification subject to the standard rates per specimen as summarised below. Please do not contact the scientists directly, but submit your pictures to the Herbarium Services co-ordinator. No identification of graphic material will take place unless confirmation of payment can be provided.

Identification conditions

  1. Only fertile specimens will be considered for identification.
  2. We undertake to identify all specimens to the lowest possible rank, but depending on the quality of the material only a family or genus name may be provided.
  3. Clients will be charged a handling fee for all specimens submitted irrespective of the level of identification.
  4. Please note that all identifications are subject to the availability of specialists in particular taxonomic groups. SANBI may, with the client’s consent, contract out identifications to specialists where no in-house expertise is available in certain plant groups.

Identification charges*

1. Urgent identifications:

Clients: Life-and-death cases only incl. Onderstepoort and SAPS.

Rate: R60.00 per specimen.

Delivery time: Immediate attention will be given to these identifications. More than 10 specimens will not be accepted for urgent identification.

2. Standard identifications:

Clients: All non-urgent identifications, incl. researchers, students, institutions, universities, commercial ventures and SANBI programmes and projects.

Rate: R40.00 per specimen

Delivery time: 30 days from time of decontamination.

3. Other herbaria, donated specimens from under collected areas and own identifications: 

Clients: Countries participating in an exchange programme, gifts, researchers and private individuals where speed of identification is not important.

Delivery time: 120 days (4 months).

Only well documented and properly prepared material will be accepted for inclusion in the herbarium. Own identifications require prior arrangement with the herbarium. Poor specimens will be discarded before being named.

Return of specimens (by request only): R50 handling, plus postage cost per parcel.

*These rates are subject to periodic change.

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