Spring 2012


Students Put HSU’s Massive Plant Collection Online

A DOZEN HUMBOLDT State undergraduates have completed a three-year, $125,000 National Science Foundation project creating a vast database of nearly 73,000 specimens in HSU’s Vascular Plant Herbarium.

The digitization links Humboldt State’s Herbarium, founded in 1960 and now the largest in the California State University system, with counterparts statewide.

Records of the vascular herbarium’s California specimens are uploaded to the Consortium of California Herbaria website, administered by UC Berkeley.

Concurrent with the completion of the database project, the herbarium recently marked the acquisition of its 100,000th specimen.

Herbarium collection manager Robin Bencie said students and other users will find the new database a versatile resource for many different types of projects and all kinds of science majors. Researchers will be able to pinpoint which species grow in specific locations and which plants they should expect to find in differing habitats and elevation zones. They will be able to establish which species commonly grow together and determine which species remain or disappear in areas of disturbance, such as fire locales.

In addition, scientists and students will be able to:

  • ascertain the best places for a field study site and which areas have not been thoroughly investigated floristically
  • find locations for uncommon plant species or habitat types
  • track changes in plant distribution, both natives and weeds
  • learn the best time in the season to collect flowers, fruits, seeds, or propagation material from different parts of the state or different elevations and determine if there is a site near their restoration area where they can obtain seeds or transplants.

Visit the California Consortium of Herbaria