Dunn-Palmer Herbarium donating 200,000 specimens to St. Louis-based collection

College of Arts & Science
Jordan Yount, yountj@missouri.edu, (573) 884-2197
News Source: 
College of Arts & Science
Dean of Arts and Science

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Today, the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri announced it will be moving its Dunn-Palmer Herbarium, a collection of nearly 200,000 preserved dried plant specimens, to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, which boasts more than 6 million plant specimens. The move will provide a permanent home for the collection where it will be accessible for consultation by scientists and conservationists.

During the last several decades, research in the plant sciences has transitioned from specimen-based to molecular genetic-based methods at many research universities, including MU.  Plant specimen-based research continues to thrive and grow at the Missouri Botanical Garden, conducted not only by its own large staff of research scientists but by many visiting botanists from all over the globe. Thus this merger assures the Dunn-Palmer collections a relevant and useful role in ongoing and future research.

Founded in 1896, The Dunn-Palmer herbarium is composed of nearly 200,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes (mosses and their relatives), and lichens.  Plant specimens are primarily from Missouri and surrounding states with additional material from other parts of North American, Mexico and Central America.

The herbarium includes historically important collections from Missouri and other parts of the Midwest, including collections of Ernest Jesse Palmer (1901–1962) and David Dunn, curator of the herbarium from 1957 to 1988, and the two botanists after whom the herbarium is named.

“We are happy that the Missouri Botanical Garden is able to accommodate the herbarium in a setting that will provide the long-term curatorial care that the specimens require and in an environment where they will remain accessible to researchers from around the world,” said Michael J. O’Brien, dean of the College of Arts and Science at MU.

“The herbarium is the second largest in Missouri, after the Missouri Botanical Garden, and we are pleased that our historically important collection of Missouri plants will be added to the impressive collection at the Missouri Botanical Garden,” said Robin Kennedy, current curator of the herbarium.

“We are glad to be able to accept the herbarium and will house the collections in our state-of-the-art herbarium,” said Peter Wyse Jackson, president of the Missouri Botanical Garden. “The addition of the specimens will further enrich the garden’s collections of plants of the Midwest, and we, as an institution, remain committed to understanding plant diversity in the region.”

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s herbarium is one of the world’s largest collections of vascular plants and bryophytes, with 6.6 million specimens.  It has one of the world’s richest collections of plants from North, Central and South America, and is the North American Center for the Study of African Botany.  The garden maintains an associated database, TROPICOS, with information on more than 4 million specimens.  Approximately 124,000 of the MU specimens already have had their collection information entered into the TROPICOS database.

The University of Missouri
The University of Missouri was founded in 1839 in Columbia as the first public land-grant university west of the Mississippi River and the first state university in Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase territory. Today, MU is a $2.1-billion enterprise and an important investment for the state and nation.

The Missouri Botanical Garden
The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis was founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw. Today, 156 years after opening, the garden is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education and horticultural display — widely considered one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world.

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