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ANHC Herbarium is Official!

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission’s Herbarium reached an important milestone just before the New Year. After years of painstaking collections and preparations, we have finally accumulated and processed more than 5,000 botanical specimens! This is the minimum number required to be recognized in Index Herbariorum (IH), the official database of worldwide herbaria maintained by the New York Botanical Garden.

As part of inclusion in IH, our official acronym “ANHC” will now be used whenever a specimen from our collection is cited in a scientific publication. For example, in a 2007 paper reporting a rare species of St. John’s wort as newly discovered from Arkansas, the voucher specimen that documented the find was cited as “T. Witsell 06-397 (MO, UARK)”. This means that specimen #06-397 collected by T. Witsell was deposited at “MO” (the Herbarium of the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis) and “UARK” (the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Herbarium). Now specimens from ANHC can be cited in publications by our staff and other scientists, and anyone can visit our listing on the IH website to learn about our collection. Researchers from other officially recognized herbaria can request loans of specimens for examination, and we can request loans from other institutions for our research. In fact, we currently have loans of rare Arkansas specimens on the way from NY (the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden) and NCU (the herbarium of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

Our entry in IH gives the following information about the collection housed in our herbarium:

The Herbarium of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission consists primarily of specimens collected in the course of statewide ecological and biological inventory work conducted by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Program. Many of the specimens represent species that are rare in the state or were collected from rare or unusual habitats. The goals of the collection are 1) to provide a reference collection for work performed by Natural Heritage Commission staff and their conservation partners, 2) to house voucher specimens for rare plant records in the database of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Program, and 3) to voucher plants of ecologically sensitive or otherwise significant lands, including those contained within the State's System of Natural Areas. While most specimens are from Arkansas, special care is being made to assemble a collection of plants from surrounding states that are not presently known in Arkansas but are likely to be found there.

Herbarium cabinet at ANHC's offices (left); herbarium specimens (right)

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