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 (email@example.com).
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.
Mark A. Schlessman
Professor of Biology and Curator of the herbarium
Plant Biology Laboratory Technician/ Greenhouse & Phytotron Manager
Science Support Technician