Herbaria at Work
Herbaria serve to document the economic impact of plants. That impact may be seen as beneficial, such as edible plants or plants useful as medicines. And it may be seen as harmful, such as poisonous plants or invasive species. Herbarium specimens have been used to document changes in geographic range, variations in flowering and fruiting seasons, and exemplars of rare or extinct plants.
The Bailey Herbarium has especially strong collections of local flora. Plant populations of our region are changing because of climate change, land use changes, and extensive grazing by deer and other herbivores. The herbarium provides a crucial historic baseline from which to judge the environmental health of Central Minnesota and the northern plains.
For more information:
Funk, V. The importance of herbaria. (2003). Plant Science Bulletin,49, 94-95.
Willems, Franziska M.; Scheepens, J. F.; Burbano, Hernan A.; Bossdorf, Oliver. Using herbaria to study global environmental change. (2019). New Phytologist 221(1):110-122
Hoagland, Bruce W. Can herbarium records be used to map alien species invasion and native species expansion over the past 100 years? (2009) Journal of Biogeography 36(4):651-661