California poppies

Answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

Accessing the Collection

The Botany collection is available for study by qualified researchers, Botany students and professionals in the field by appointment only. To determine if our collection contains specimens from your taxonomic group, or which might prove useful to your research, please visit our online collection database which is searchable by taxon, collector, geography and other selected criteria.

If you would like to arrange a visit to view specific specimens/groups, please contact the Botany Collection Manager (details on main page) via email and include a brief research proposal and list of the specimens you would like to see. For students, also include a letter of support from a faculty member.


I would like to submit specimens to the herbarium. What is involved with this process?

We are interested in obtaining new material and encourage botanists to contact the person listed to the right under Contact Us. We often work with amateur and professional botanists on regional collecting efforts and have had several large herbaria donated to CAS in the past.


My garden won’t grow. What advice do you have for me?

Though it may seem counter-intuitive, botanists—who study the structure of plants, the functions of their parts, the places they grow, their classifications, etc.—aren't actually the best source of this kind of information. Instead, we recommend contacting your local garden center or agricultural extension office.





I have a rare live plant—may I donate it to the Department of Botany?

Unfortunately, no. Because live specimens often carry pests that could contaminate our collections, we don't keep any live specimens in the department. You may try contacting the San Francisco Botanical Garden or the Conservatory of Flowers.

If you're interested in making a monetary donation to the Department of Botany, thank you! Please contact the Academy’s Development Office at (415) 379-5405 or


I found a plant and would like to know what it is. Who should I contact?

Please contact the Naturalist Center. If they're not able to identify the plant, they'll get in touch with a botanist for you. This is the quickest way to get a response to your question.


I searched your database but didn’t find the type specimen I was looking for. Can you suggest another database to search?


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Department History

Learn more about our department's century and a half of scientific history.

Contact Us

Collections inquiries:
Emily Magnaghi
Collection Manager
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Dr.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-5392