The CIRAD Herbarium is registered under the name ALF at the Index Herbariorum (New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York 10458-5126, United States). Botanical collections made in Mali in 1958, in Sotuba, formed the basis of the original ALF herbarium of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine in Tropical Countries (IEMVT), while based in Maisons-Alfort.

This herbarium was relocated from Paris to Montpellier in 1995 where he is kept at CIRAD, on the Baillarguet site (Montferrier). The collection contains about 50,000 specimens, including 60 types, which represent nearly 5 500 species. It is specific to the tropical dry African region from Mauritania to the Red Sea. Although representative, in particular, of the steppes and savannas of Sudanian and Sahelian Domains it also includes plants, herbaceous and woody, of the Guinean Domain.

The basis of the collection was made from research activities carried out on major breeding and transhumance areas in Africa. The ALF herbarium contains, in addition, specimens from southern Africa (especially Zimbabwe), Middle East and various countries. Nearly 50 countries are represented in the collection that was built by the work of over 300 collectors, both North and South.

The team in place for managing the Herbarium ALF began, in 2008, a restructuring of the collection. All specimens currently included in the database were georeferenced with the aim to map the distribution of plants collected.

A rich iconography will gradually be associated to the information contained in this database. This is especially the images of herbarium sheets that are being digitalized, drawings and many photographs. This database will be regularly enriched by thousands of specimens which have been mounted, labeled and are awaiting classification. New samples, collected during recent missions, will expand the geographic area covered by the herbarium and increase the number of species in the collection.

Tchad, savane arborée soudano-sahélienne - Acacia sieberiana DC.(Mimosaceae), saison sèche, vue aérienne

The ALF Herbarium, after being dormant for over a decade, has returned to his role in science, education and information. Partnerships were established with various institutions involved in botany and plant ecology (MNHN, CJBG) as well as European and African Universities. The collection is therefore often viewed in the context of genetic studies.

The AFL Herbarium is directly related to the base "Flowers of Africa and Europe" posted by CIRAD.

This herbarium, which is called "dead collection", is actually very dynamic and alive. Although it is one of the finest collections of vascular plants from Sudano-Sahelian Africa it remains, in this vast geographical Domain, areas poorly known botanically which there is few or no samples.