The Herbarium


Herbaria, collections of pressed and dried plants specimens, are key to our understanding of biodiversity and our efforts to preserve it. Herbaria provide windows into our past, telling us what kinds of plants were present, where those plants were, and when those plants were there. With this information we can track changes over time and use that information to predict and prepare for our future.

Dating to the founding of Vassar College in 1865, the Vassar College herbarium holds over 15,000 specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, and algae. Holdings are primarily from northeastern North America, and include collections made by several notable 19th century botanists, including A.A. Heller, and J.K. Small; by Vassar faculty, including Gladys E. Baker, J. R. Lawrence, Madelene Pierce, Louise Potter, Frank Ranzoni, Edith A. Roberts, and Margaret Wright; and by many Vassar students. At present, the primary research foci of the herbarium are documentation of the vascular flora of the Vassar College Ecological Preserve, and digitization of the collection.

Located in the basement of the Bridge Building for Laboratory Sciences (BLSB10), the herbarium is available for use by Vassar faculty and students. Please contact the Curator, Professor of Biology Mark Schlessman (

EMMA Digitization Project


Our coalition of six small herbaria are joining the existing Thematic Collections Network (TCN) entitled, Mobilizing New England Vascular Plant Specimen Data to Track Environmental Changes (NEVP). The six herbaria – Louis Calder Center, Highstead Arboretum, Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, Mohonk Preserve, Pace University, and Vassar College – are part of the Environmental Monitoring and Management Coalition (EMMA), situated in the Hudson River Valley of southeastern New York State. The six small herbaria will contribute high-quality digital images, specimen record data, and geolocation of 22,250 specimens. These images and data will contribute to the research and outreach goals of the New England Vascular Plants Network.


Digitizing the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve Herbarium (and More)

Our first stop as a mobile digitizing team this summer was the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve, located a little over...
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A New Day For Vassar’s Herbarium

The Vassar College Herbarium is almost as old as the college itself.  It was established in 1865 by Professor of...
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NSF Grant Will Help Vassar Share Botanical Data

Herbaria, catalogued collections of pressed and dried plant specimens, enable scientists to learn about ecosystems of the past. But the...
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Mark A. Schlessman, Vassar College, Professor of Biology

Mark A. Schlessman

Professor of Biology and Curator of the herbarium

Taylor Conte

Taylor Conte

Plant Biology Laboratory Technician/ Greenhouse & Phytotron Manager

Science Support Technician