The University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU) is only open by appointment. Researchers wishing to access the herbarium collections should contact the Curator. Online access to our specimen records is available through Australia’s Virtual Herbarium.

MELU Herbarium Database

Herbarium specimens contain valuable information about the distribution of the flora, taxonomy and collecting history. Databasing our specimens not only creates a complete catalogue of our collection, it also makes our specimens, and the data associated with them more widely available. You can access the MELU specimen data through the AVH.

During 2013, with the help of staff at the National Herbarium of Victoria, the MELU Herbarium Database was migrated to the Specify6 platform, which was specifically designed for herbarium and museum collection data. At present approximately 13% of the MELU collection has been databased, and we continue to capture data. Most data entry is currently performed by casual staff funded by small grants or crowdsourcing projects through the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) volunteer portal. If you think you could help us with databasing the MELU specimen information, through financial or other contributions we would like to hear from you; please contact the Curator.

Curation initiatives in 2017 included digitising part of the fern collection (supported by the Botany Foundation) and digitising the algal collection (supported by a Miegunyuh Fund grant). Read the article detailing our curation work on the fern collection in the 2017 Botany Foundation Annual Report.


Requests for loans are to be addressed to the Curator, and can be sent either by email or on institution letterhead. Loan requests on behalf of staff or students should come from the Director or Curator of a registered herbarium. Loans of all scientific specimens can only occur between scientific organisations registered with either the Australian Government or CITES.

MELU acknowledges the changing needs of the scientific community, and endeavours to support a wide range of botanical research. However, preservation of herbarium specimens is vital. Therefore, high resolution images are our preferred way to share specimens of Types and other historic and significant specimens. In addition, removal of material from specimens (i.e. destructive sampling) for research purposes other than routine taxonomic examination requires prior written authorization from the Curator. Please download and complete our destructive sampling request form along with your loan request.

MELU Loan Conditions

  1. A copy of these loan conditions must be given to the botanist using the loan.
  2. Loans are initially for 12 months. If necessary, an extension will be granted upon written application.
  3. The removal and dissection specimen parts is not permitted without completing a destructive sampling request form and the signed consent of the MELU Curator. When approved this must done judiciously and only when sufficient material is present. Dissection of type material is not permitted.
  4. All material removed or dissected from specimens, and any loose fragments, should be placed in a suitable envelope or polyethylene bag and attached to the specimen sheet. Any slide preparations are to be sent to MELU when the loan is returned. No material may be removed and retained permanently without prior written approval.
  5. The botanist examining the specimens must annotate these with the name of the plant, the botanist's name, the date, and any relevant comments. Determinavit or confirmavit slips must be typed, or written in permanent ink (not ball-point pen), and affixed to the specimen with an archival paperclip only. Slips for bryophyte or fungal specimens must be placed inside the specimen packet.
  6. Loans being returned should be insured or registered, and packed carefully to minimise damage during transit. Whenever possible, the packing in which the specimens were received should be utilised.
  7. When returning specimens, to allow easy passage through Australian Quarantine, please ensure that the following is clearly visible on the outside of all parcels:
    • CITES codes of both the sending and receiving institutions (MELU CITES code: AU043),
    • if specimens are fungi, cryptogams or not fully prepared vascular plants, a copy of MELU Import Permit or MELU Import Permit number (contact Curator for current permit details),
    • copies of the loan/exchange documentation and a list of all species names and acquisition numbers (if accessioned),
    • ATTENTION QUARANTINE label (printed on yellow paper), and
    • if appropriate, documentation detailing special treatments and/or preservation techniques that have been carried out on the specimens (e.g. heat, methyl bromide, etc.), and dates these were conducted.