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ANHC Herbarium Specimens Exhibited at State Capitol

Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission - Friday, March 30, 2018

The ANHC is honored to have an exhibit, Flora of Arkansas, in the Governor's Reception Area inside the Arkansas State Capitol. The exhibit consists of 10 Arkansas plant specimens, and will be on display through mid-June, concurrent with the spring season.

The project was initiated by Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH) Director Stacy Hurst in August 2017. The goals of the exhibit were to provide a pleasant and educational environment for visitors and staff in the reception area, to highlight the beauty and uniqueness of Arkansas plants as part of Arkansas’s natural history, and to reflect the work of the ANHC herbarium and its importance to the state.

The ANHC collaborated with staff at the Historic Arkansas Museum (HAM) and the Arkansas State Archives (ASA), also divisions of DAH, to produce the exhibit. ANHC Senior Botanist/Herbarium Curator, Theo Witsell, chose and prepared plant specimens to be used for the exhibit. HAM Deputy Director Donna Uptigrove and ASA Curator Julienne Crawford led the effort to frame and display the specimens in the reception area.

An herbarium is a collection of pressed and dried plant specimens -- it is like a library for plants. Preserved plants are mounted on archival, acid-free sheets and labeled with detailed information on when and where they were collected. They are then stored, cataloged, and arranged systematically for both the historical and scientific record. 

The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission herbarium was officially recognized in 2010 and consists primarily of specimens collected in the course of statewide ecological and biological inventory work conducted by the staff of the ANHC. Many of the specimens represent species that are rare in the state or that were collected from rare habitats or significant sites. Others serve as important documentation of agricultural weeds or other economically and ecologically harmful pest plants.

One of the main goals of the ANHC herbarium is to provide an accurate reference for Natural Heritage Commission staff, other agencies and organizations, scientists, researchers, and the public. To make the collection more easily accessible to others, the ANHC is participating in a region-wide effort funded by the National Science Foundation to digitize all herbarium specimens in the Southeast U.S. and make high-resolution images and label data available online.

The specimens included in the exhibit at the Capitol are Stern’s medlar (Crataegus x canescens), western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis), white trout lily (Erythronium albidum), scurf-pea (Pediomelum esculentum), hairy scorpion-weed (Phacelia hirsuta), blunt spike-rush (Eleocharis obtusa), Alabama snow-wreath (Neviusia alabamensis), pink swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), and buffalo clover (Trifolium reflexum).


Photos: Top left - Herbarium specimen of buffalo clover (Trifolium reflexum) displayed as part of the Flora of Arkansas exhibit at the Governor's Reception Area inside the Arkansas State Capitol.

Bottom left - Herbarium specimen of western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) displayed as part of the Flora of Arkansas exhibit.

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