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Research & Collections :: Collections at the State Museum :: Biology
Herbarium (VascularPlants)

The vouchers for John Torrey's Flora of the State of New York (1843) formed the nucleus of the Herbarium. Because of the cultural and economic importance of the Albany-Troy area in the l9th century, the herbariumattracted collections of other early botanists, including Lewis Caleb Beck, Chester Dewey, H. P. Sartwell, Edward Tuckerman, the student Asa Gray, P. D. Kneiskern, and others. However, the bulk of the Herbarium is the result of the staff's collections and gifts and exchanges. Notable were the contributions of the first three state botanists, C. H. Peck, H. D. House, and E. C. Ogden, and the first designated curator, S. J. Smith. The floristic and monographic studies of these workers and the position of the Herbarium as the legislated repository for New York State plantspecimens led to the acquisition of major personal collections, including those of J. V. Haberer, R. C. Latham, and H. E. Ahles. Changing priorities in other agencies and in the State University system have recently resulted in major acquisitions, the most notable being the complete herbarium of the State University College at Brockport, significant transfers from the State University College of Arts and Sciences, Geneseo, and the complete collection of the Wildlife Resources Center (New YorkState Department of Environmental Conservation).

Present holdings include over 175,000 vascular plants in the accessionedcollection and several tens of thousands of unprocessed specimens. The Herbarium serves well to document the flora of the state. Out-or-state holdings are also rather extensive and make the collection of general use for systematic studies. The early establishment and importance of the Herbarium and the prominence of its staff attracted important workers and specimens, including numerous types. Important holdings include original or duplicate specimens obtained from M. A. Curtis, L. S. Rose, I. W. Clokey,C. F. Austin, B. D. Gilbert, C. S. Sheldon, E. Brainerd, C. S.Sargent, E. P. Bicknell, and H. M. Denslow.

Special collections have been developed to support particular research programs and to assist in answering queries from outside the Survey. These subunits include collections of fruits and seeds, wood, pollen, and anatomical vouchers. A valuable herbarium resource is the New York State Flora Data File, which includes locality data for allknown specimens of vascular plants and bryophytes collected orobserved in the state. This file, compiled over much of this century, includes not only records of specimens in the Museum's Herbarium but also those in other herbaria and literature reports, especially from early floras.

The Herbarium's curator is Charles J. Sheviak whose research interests include the systematics and floristics of Orchidaceae, and particularly the reproductive (and chromosome) biology of Spiranthes, Platanthera,and Cypripedium. Other Biological Survey botanists who work with the collection include Richard S. Mitchell (flora of New York State, Polygonum) and Norton G. Miller (taxonomyof bryophytes and seed plants, quaternary paleobotany andpaleoecology).

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