Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The Charleston Southern University Herbarium has been accepted for registry with the New York Botanical Garden – one of the world’s most prestigious.
Dr. Melinda Walker, chair of the biology department, said the CSU Herbarium was accepted with just 1,000 samples (instead of the usual 5,000) because of the quality of samples, speed with which the samples were selected and the historical significance of the herbarium.
"Consider how many, many institutions there are in the world that have a botany component,” she said. “Only 3,400 herbariums exist worldwide – we are one of them.”
The CSU Herbarium has a goal of collecting and documenting all plant species in this specific place in South Carolina.
“CSU is the site of a historical plantation, and we are surrounded by plantations from the founding of our country,” Walker said. “Not many universities have such a richly historical environment from which to benefit. Keeping up with, and documenting, plant specimens over time means that in the future, studies can be made to see if there are changes in the local flora, negatively or positively.
“Comparisons can be made to similar areas in other places of the world and questions asked as to why this area is or is not like that area.”
Kevin Jones, biology instructor, is the curator of the CSU Herbarium. Jones uses the herbarium extensively in the Plant Taxonomy class.
“With Kevin’s research students it has formed the basis of all the projects done since the summer of 2012,” Walker said. “Actually, if it were not for the work of students involved, the herbarium would not exist.”
To date, 12 students have been involved in this work, including Adrianna Fiscella’s research project. Fiscella coauthored a paper on the Hobcaw Barony research project.
“When articles are written for publication, the voucher specimens collected for that study are maintained in a recognized herbarium for reference in the future,” Walker said. “Now any studies we do of that nature, such as the study Kevin Jones did last summer at Hobcaw Barony, can be maintained here on campus.”
If CSU did not have the Herbarium, those specimens would have to be deposited in another university’s herbarium.
The CSU Herbarium is located in Jones’s office in the Science Building, which is specifically designed to hold the herbarium in a safe location that also provides enough room for those interested to be able to view the specimens.