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Collection Description and Curation

The WVU Herbarium complex occupies about 1670 square feet of space in the basement level of the Life Sciences Building (LSB). The catalogued plant collection is stored in 125 cases within the 875 square foot herbarium proper. The majority of the collections are from West Virginia (60% estimated), although all parts of North America (35%) and many areas of the world (5%) are represented. Additionally, the herbarium contains a reference seed collection of over 2,000 specimens, started in 1950 by Elizabeth Bartholomew. Also part of the complex is a 590 square foot workroom, a 120 square foot quarantine room, and the Curator’s office. The office houses the Herbarium Library, containing books in floristic and systematic botany, while the Earl L. Core color slide collection is stored on the fifth floor within the office of the Bryophytes and Lichens collection manager and Arboretum curator. Begun in the early 1940s by Dr. Core, the slide collection now numbers over 25,000 photographs of botanical subjects. The pictures are used for classes, seminars and in publications.

Specimen Preparation and Handling

As in other herbaria, much of the work is focused on preparation, preservation, and cataloging of plant materials. Vascular plants are pressed, dried and mounted on a standard 11.5×16.5 inch, acid-free, 100%-rag content herbarium paper. To each sheet a label is attached bearing the name of the plant, name of the collector and various other data including habitat, locality, and date of collection. Lichens and bryophytes are typically dried and stored in 3×5 inch packets of folded paper with the label attached to the outside of the packet.

Fumigation measures are routinely used on all incoming plants by freezing them for at least seven days. Specimens are filed in steel cases systematically by family and then alphabetically by genus and species. Collections are separated into three geographic ares (West Virginia, other states, and foreign). A computer database of specimen label information has been created to facilitate analysis of the West Virginia specimens entered into the collection.