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Xylarium

 

The University of Michigan Herbarium (MICH) wood collection contains more than 3,300 specimens representing more than 130 families, with an emphasis on tropical woods. Most specimens are small branch cuttings, rectangular blocks, or larger stem cross-sections.

Many of the wood specimens are vouchered by pressed herbarium material housed here at MICH. Some of this herbarium material also serves as vouchers for wood collections elsewhere, including at the US National Herbarium. A digital index of wood at MICH is available, and the collection is in the process of being fully digitally curated.

Well-represented geographic regions in the wood collection include Sumatra (2,350 specimens), Belize / Guatemala (386), Mexico (158), Australia (123), the West Indies (83), and Paraguay (77). The largest family in the wood collection is Euphorbiaceae, followed by Rubiaceae, Fabaceae, Myrtaceae, Lauraceae, and Meliaceae (>100 specimens each).

Rahmat Si Boeea – More than half the collection (>1,750 specimens) consists of small branch cutting collected by Rahmat Si Boeea (also erroneously cited as Rahmat Si Toroes) in northeastern Sumatra during the 1920s and ‘30s. Rahmat Si Boeea was native to Asahan, North Sumatra, and received no formal education but was knowledgeable about Batak ethnobotany (Gould 1961). Many of the wood and herbarium specimens he collected while employed by H.H. Bartlett contain a description or name in the indigenous Batak script, for which a Latin-alphabet transliteration, but rarely an English-language translation, is often available. An exhibit on Batak texts collected by Bartlett is also curated at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology (click here for more information).

Harley H. Bartlett – More than 500 wood specimens were collected by University of Michigan botanist Harley H. Bartlett (Voss 1961), primarily from Sumatra, Guatemala, and British Honduras (Belize), but also elsewhere in Central and South America, the Philippines, and the United States.

Boris A. Krukoff – Boris A. Krukoff of the New York Botanical Garden (NYT 1983) contributed several hundred wood samples from Sumatra and West Africa.

Percy H. Gentle – Gentle was a local from British Honduras (Belize) employed by H.H. Bartlett. Although the herbarium contains more than 180 of Gentle’s wood specimens, Bartlett recorded in his field notebook that many of Gentle’s specimens were “lost in the great Belize hurricane [of 1931].” Some of Gentle’s samples are accompanied by Mayan names or other ethnobotanical notes.

CSIRO – More than 100 wood specimens were collected by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, spanning all Australian states with the exception of Western Australia.

Claudio V. Pavetti Morín – Pavetti Morín was a professor at the Universidad Nacional de Asunción, Paraguay, with broad research interests in pharmacy, botany, and forestry (MEC 2010). Among his many qualifications was a Master of Forestry degree earned from the University of Michigan in 1945 (MEC 2010). His 77 specimens are mostly polished wood blocks labelled in both Latin and Guarani, and are among the most beautiful in the herbarium’s collection.

William Randolph Taylor – Though not one of the largest groups of specimens in the collection, Taylor’s specimens are of historical interest. The 17 large branch cuttings were collected in 1946 from Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, in the months prior to the American atomic bomb tests codenamed “Operation Crossroads” (Hillis 1992). Taylor was employed as a botanist for Operation Crossroads, but spent the majority of his career as professor of botany at the University of Michigan (Hillis 1992). His work includes a flora of the islands entitled “Plants of Bikini and Other Northern Marshall Islands” (Taylor 1950).

Other collectors – The remainder of the collection consists of specimens from a variety of collectors, primarily collected in Latin America, Australia, and tropical Asia.

References

Gould, James W. 1961. American in Sumatra. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague. p. 148.

Hillis, Llewllya. 1992. William Randolf Taylor, 1895-1990. British Phycological Journal, 27: 1-2.

MEC. 2010. Claudio V. Pavetti Morín. Ministerio de Educación y Cultura, September 15, 2010, [online]

NYT. 1983. Boris A. Krukoff, 84, a botanist and curator. New York Times, January 24, 1983.

Taylor, W.R. 1950. Plants of Bikini and Other Northern Marshall Islands. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.

Voss, Edward G. 1961. Harley Harris Bartlett, Torreya, 88: 47-62.