This is an information and FAQ site for the S. L. Welsh Herbarium at Brigham Young University. Information is organized by tabs under the banner above, and within a page by heading links shown here to the right. Requests for further information or other inquiries can be made to the Collections Manager or Curator.

What is a Herbarium?

Those of us who work in the herbarium on a daily basis often forget that many people don't understand what a herbarium is. It is not a living collection of culinary or medicinal herbs; in fact, there are no living plants at all in this herbarium. It is also not a collection of dried herbs or powders such as one might expect to find at a health food store. Instead, a herbarium is a collection of dead, dried plants pressed flat and mounted individually on archival paper. These plants were mostly collected in the wild, and the sheets they are mounted on include a label documenting where the plant was collected, the date of collection, who collected it, and sometimes other information such as abundance, soil type, associated species, and attributes of the plant such as flower color, height, and stage of development. Herbaria are scientific collections that document the abundance and occurrence of plant species across our earth. They are the libraries for plant species names and provide material that can be studied to determine species distributions, morphological characteristics, ecological associations, and more.

What is unique about the S.L. Welsh Herbarium?

The herbarium at BYU was started in 1923 by Walter Cottam, and named after Dr. Stanley Welsh in 2001. Dr. Welsh is the lead author of A Utah Flora, the most comprehensive guide to the vascular plants of Utah presently available. As a faculty member at BYU for 44 years and curator of the herbarium, Dr. Welsh was the driving force behind BYU's herbarium becoming the largest herbarium in the Intermountain West. The collection houses some 600,000 specimens, some dating to the late 1800's, and has specimens from over 90 countries. The herbarium also houses over 1600 type specimens, which are essential for establishing the names of species, subspecies, and varieties. The bulk of the collection consists of plants from the Intermountain West. It is widely and frequently consulted by botanists because of the breadth of its holdings from this region.

Visiting and browsing the S.L. Welsh Herbarium

The herbarium is open to the public by appointment only. With a scheduled visit, a herbarium worker will help you locate the materials of interest and orient you to herbarium facilities, policies, and procedures. The general public would likely find little value in browsing cabinets, and the scientific value of the collections is such that general browsing without a purpose is discouraged. Tours for interested parties or individuals can be arranged. Academic researchers, professional and amateur botanists, government agency workers, land managers, and plant enthusiasts, on the other hand, will find the herbarium resources of immense value. Contact the Collections Manager to arrange access to the collection. Efforts to completely database and image herbarium records are underway; these records and images can be searched via the internet at intermountainbiota.org.

start.txt · Last modified: 2014/11/28 11:41 by hadmin
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