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:
- 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 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.
An example herbarium cabinet containing the historical collection of specimens donated by Rev. E.V. Campbell and all specimens collected prior to 1930.
A specimen of the Minnesota state flower, Cypripedium reginae, or Showy Lady’s Slipper.
A timeline of events in the SCL herbarium
Reverend E.V. Campbell donates first specimens to St. Cloud State University, known as the Third State Normal School at that time. In total Rev. Campbell donated approximately 300 specimens.
Dr. Max Partch expanded the collection during his time with the university. The SCL collection grew from hundreds of specimens in 1950 to thousands by 1980. His research included prairie ecosystems.
Dr. Lester Lindstrom contributed at least 5,000 specimens to the collection during his time at St. Cloud State University.
Dr. Gerald Wheeler gifted many specimens to the St. Cloud State University Herbarium from the University of Minnesota collections. He conducted research in the sedge genus Carex.
Dr. Wayland Ezell grew the botanical library housed at SCL. We assume that Dr. Ezell used the herbarium specimens to teach his classes and grew the collection.
Dr. Jorge Arriagada maintained and expanded the collection through his curation efforts and collections of Clibadium specimens from Costa Rica, Colombia, and Ecuador. Dr. Matthew Julius establishes and grows the collection of diatoms affiliated with the collection, which contrains important type specimens.
Dr. Angela McDonnell assumes directorship and hired Makayla Michael and Kendall Cross as student curators to start digitization efforts. Stay tuned for new developments as we grow and develop the approximately 30,000 specimen collection.