18th Century plants online

Botanists rejoice. The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia said Wednesday that it will produce high-resolution digital images of about 30,000 different plant species from its world-famous herbarium, where some of the oldest plant types exist. Through the project--made possible through a three-year, $262,500 grant from the National Science Foundation--the Academy will make these plant images available online. The digital collection will include detailed records that describe where each plant was collected and by whom.

Some of the specimens date back to the 1700s, having been collected by early explorers such as Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Still, the Academy houses more than 1.3 million plants from around the world in its herbarium, some of which can only be found there and in person.

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