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Tour the Harvard University Herbaria

Gary Junken, Produced by Susan Jensen Smith

Wouldn’t you enjoy a personal tour of the Harvard University Herbaria? While it’s not open to the public, we were thrilled to be able to meet with Charles Davis, Harvard Professor and Director of the Harvard University Herbaria.  Grab a cup of coffee and join us for his insightful tour!

First of all, what is a Herbaria, and why is it so important?

Simply put, a Herbaria is a collection of dried and preserved plant species – a great place to study plants in nature.

The Harvard University Herbaria is located on the grounds of Harvard, and contains over 5 million specimens in six collections:  plants, mosses, fungi, lichens, bryophytes, and algae.

The HUH was founded in 1842 by Asa Gray. He led the effort to catalog and inventory North American flora, which included expeditions to the western U.S.  He quickly grew the collection through a combination of field expeditions and collaboration with other regions world-wide.

Why collect and study specimens?

We learn much by studying the specimens in a Herbaria, for example:

  • Where plants grow and how they change over time
  • Impact of human development on plants
  • When plants flower and/or fruit
  • Documents a plant’s life history

In this Video Charles will share several specimens, how they are dried and stored, and what we can learn from these specimens.

At the end of the video, Charles references that specimens can be searched online. Here’s the link.

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