What is an herbarium?

The St. Cloud State University herbarium (herbarium code SCL, https://sweetgum.nybg.org/science/ih/) is an archive, much like a library or a museum. It contains approximately 30,000 pressed, dried plant specimens that serve as primary data sources that document plant species and metadata. Each collection includes the plant specimen (usually from central Minnesota) along with a label that includes locality and collector information.

Why are herbaria useful?

Herbaria contain data that inform a wide variety of studies and interests:

  • Floristics
  • Taxonomy and classification of plants
  • Phenology, or shifts in geographic distribution due to climate change
  • Plant identification
  • Historical land use


Staff in the herbarium are responsible for maintaining the collection. We are in the early stages of digitization; right now, we are over halfway done adding barcode information to each specimen. Be on the lookout for more updates soon!

  • Kendall Cross, Student Curator
  • Makayla Michaels, Student Curator
  • Angela McDonnell, Director
student curators with a plant specimen sample

Student curators Makayla Michael (right) and Kendall Cross (left) have learned how to determine when a specimen needs repairs and where to place barcodes. Here they examine a Magnolia specimen.

a historical collection of plant specimens

An example herbarium cabinet containing the historical collection of specimens donated by Rev. E.V. Campbell and all specimens collected prior to 1930.

Cypripedium reginae specimen
A specimen of the Minnesota state flower, Cypripedium reginae, or Showy Lady’s Slipper.

A timeline of events in the SCL herbarium








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