The CIRAD ALF Herbarium

Last update: 23 November 2012

The CIRAD ALF herbarium, a national heritage! With about 50,000 species, of which 60 are type specimens, this unique collection is unrivalled by any other botanical institution in the world, and holds great scientific interest.

The CIRAD Herbarium 

Is registered under the name ALF at the Index Herbariorum (New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York 10458-5126, U.S.A.). Botanical collections made in Sotuba, Mali in 1958 formed the basis of the original ALF Herbarium of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine in Tropical Countries. In 1995, this herbarium was moved from Paris to Montpellier, where it is now kept at CIRAD on the Baillarguet Campus.

The collection

The collection contains about 50,000 specimens, including 60 types, which represent nearly 5,500 species. It is specific to the dry, tropical, African region that stretches from Mauritania across to the Red Sea. While particularly representative of the steppes and savannahs of the Sudanese and Sahelian Domains, the collection also includes herbaceous and woody plants from the Guinean Domain.

The bulk of the collection was realized through research activities conducted in the major livestock breeding and transhumance regions of Africa. The ALF Herbarium also contains specimens from Southern Africa (especially Zimbabwe), the Middle East, and various other countries. Nearly 50 countries are represented in the collection, which was built through the work of 300 collectors from both North and South.

Since 2008, the team responsible for the management of the ALF Herbarium has been reorganizing the collection. All of the specimens currently integrated in the data base were geo-referenced to map the distribution of the plants collected. 

A data base

A rich iconography gradually will be associated with the information contained in this data base. These include in particular images of herbarium sheets, which are being digitalized, as well as drawings and numerous photographs. This data base will be enriched regularly with thousands of specimens which have been mounted, labelled, and are awaiting classification. New samples collected during recent missions will expand the geographic regions covered by the herbarium and will increase the number of species in the collection.

After lying dormant for nearly a decade, the ALF Herbarium has rediscovered its role in the fields of science, education, and information. Partnerships have been set up with diverse institutions involved in botany and plant ecology (National Museum of Natural History in Paris and Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Geneva) as well as with European and African universities.  The collection is consulted frequently in the framework of genetic studies.

The ALF Herbarium is linked directly with the “Flowers of Africa and Europe” data base posted on-line by CIRAD.

This herbarium, which is known as a “dead collection”, is in fact very dynamic and alive. While it represents one of the finest collections of vascular plants from Sudano-Sahelian Africa, certain botanical areas within this vast geographic region remain little known due to a lack or scarcity of samples.

Last update: 23 November 2012

  • Un problème avec les classeurs est la difficulté de générer un affichage "intelligent" des contenus... qui dépendent aussi peu que possible du conteneur. Faut-il afficher en regroupant les contenus par classeur (groupés sous le titre du classeur) ? Faut-il les afficher "fusionnés" (dans ce cas, quel ordre de tri utiliser ? celui du parent ?) ?
  • D'autre part, cet affichage spécifique est-il utile ou faudrait-il simplement intégrer les contenus des classeurs au mode d'affichage des enfants ? Dans ce cas, le contenu des classeurs doit-il apparaître comme du niveau 1 (puisque le classeur est "transparent") ou en niveau 2 ???
  • Ou alors, restreindre fortement l'usage des classeurs à des conteneurs très spécifiques ???
  • Photos of the slide show of the CIRAD Herbarium

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