Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What is an herbarium?

Can you guess what an herbarium is based on the word? Do you see, "herb," in it? Check the definition of herbarium here.

Here is a link to the herbarium at Iowa State University. It is called the Ada Hayden Herbarium.

The herbarium is named after Dr. Ada Hayden. Who is this person?
Ada Hayden receives a Ph.D.; she is the first woman to receive a Ph.D. at Iowa State College." Read more...

There are people behind herbaria. I had the opportunity to work in the herbarium at Iowa State. As a graduate student, I had a wonderful opportunity to work in the Ada Hayden herbarium. I worked with Dr. Richard W. Pohl, a specialist in grasses (like wheat and timothy), and, Dr. Duane Isley, a specialist in legumes (like peas and beans). Dr. Isley hired me on a graduate fellowship to work there. I used to label the herbarium sheets and check for errors in identification. I also sent out specimens and filed returned specimens. As a result, I learned many plants and talked with exciting people.

When you go outside and see green, do you know all the plants? Would you like to know what they are? How can you tell?

Plant specimens can be used as an aid in difficult plant identifications, as can molecular biology. Here is a link to an herbarium sheet:

A special group of botanists, called plant taxonomists, learn how to identify different plants. They use herbaria for research, as well as field work , and can use molecular biology, too.
The American Society of Plant Taxonomists has a link to several herbaria:

Here is a link on biotechnology in plant identification:

Here is another link to what an herbarium is. The digital collections of the Harvard University Herbaria can be found here:

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