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Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium

The Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium (KHD), a collection of over 49,000 vascular plant specimens, is a regional herbarium with a research focus on the species diversity of Colorado and the southern Rocky Mountain region. The collection also contains species from other areas of the Southwest and those species that are in cultivation at Denver Botanic Gardens.

The herbarium has excellent collections of many plant families including Cyperaceae (particularly the genus Carex), Fabaceae (especially the genus Astragalus), Poaceae, Orchidaceae, Brassicaceae and Ophioglossaceae.

To learn how a plant in the field becomes a useful specimen to science, see the KHD Plant Collection Protocols.

Search the KHD database at SEINet
SEINet includes 33 herbaria collections, distribution maps and dynamic checklists.

Photo by Melissa IslamEthnobotanical Collection

Denver Botanic Gardens has one of the only actively curated ethnobotanical collections in the western United States. Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between plants and people, and this collection documents how plants are used by humans for everything from medicine and textiles to cultural and spiritual purposes. The collection focuses on three areas of research: 1) how plants native to the region are used by people; 2) how Native American groups within the region use plants; and 3) how other cultural groups in the area utilize plants. This last research area emphasizes those plants bought and sold in Hispanic herb stores and farmers markets. View examples of our ethnobotanical specimens.

Public Service

The KHD collection can be used to aid plant identification and other types of study. Scheduled appointments are suggested for visitors, especially during the field season. Educational tours of the herbarium are also available for interested groups.

Hours: Monday-Thursday: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Contact KHD staff to make an appointment for identification services. Please see our fees for identification services.

Photo by Pam Regensberg

Field Projects

  • Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield - Our Chatfield location is about 750 acres. The main property (350 acres) is a multiuse urban farm and includes several man-made ponds and a riparian area. The remaining acres are split between two nearby satellite parcels and may house prairie relicts. In the early 1980s, Janet Wingate conducted the first and only thorough botanical inventory and only the main property. Dr. Wingate documented over 320 species. We will be investigating if that diversity still exists and hope to document new species on the satellite parcels.
  • Mineral County – We are conducting a botanical inventory of 1200 acres of private property nestled in the Weminuche Wilderness Area, Rio Grand National Forest.
  • Moffat County – We are exploring under-collected areas of high biological diversity to create a lasting record of these unique areas.