Digitizing the herbarium: The largest and most efficient digistreet

A plant in the Hermann herbarium

Especially for Naturalis the digitization company Picturae developed a digitization set based on a conveyor belt that can digitize herbarium sheets at a high speed. With three conveyor belts, more than 4 million herbarium sheets were scanned in a period of 10 months. This efficient working method is possible due to a combination of a conveyor belt and innovative software that enables a rapid digitization while still ensuring a high quality.


Software ensures that the digitized herbarium sheets are automatically provided with color profiles and are checked for focus and depth. If these aspects are correct, the image is automatically cropped and stored, and then it is ready for use. The registration of the metadata can subsequently start using these images.


This registration is done by a team in Suriname under the guidance of Picturae. About 40 people are working on the registration of the herbarium sheets. Staff from Naturalis monitor the quality of the registrations. If this is good enough, the data are imported into the production database of BRAHMS (a botanical database management system used by research institutions globally). With this the digitization is complete. 

Herbarium online 

The results of the herbarium street instantly grant the entire world access to the most important and most consulted data from the herbarium collections of Naturalis. Researchers who make use of label data from herbarium collections, for example during the development of new drugs or in a study about the relatedness of plant species, can now always access the basic information online at any time from anywhere in the world. Previously that could only be done by visiting the Herbarium.