The University of Michigan Herbarium is home to some of the finest botanical collections in the world. The 1.7 million specimens of vascular plants, algae, bryophytes, fungi, and lichens combined with the expertise of the faculty-curators, students, and staff provide a world-class facility for teaching and research in systematic biology and biodiversity studies. The organismal and genetic resource collections such as those in the Herbarium provide the best tangible record we have of life on Earth and constitute a crucial resource for use in research and education benefiting science, society, and the university. Working collaboratively with the highly regarded Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, our goal is to make UM a leading center for training and research in studies of the history, the change mechanisms, and the conservation of Earth’s diverse life forms.
The Herbarium’s collections were initiated in 1837 and have grown over time as scientific expeditions by UM biologists and many others have entrusted archival research materials, collected from nearly every region of the world, to its care. The collections are irreplaceable, originate from places and habitats that are now prohibitively expensive or dangerous to visit or that have been drastically altered by human activity. They include representatives of extinct species and populations, providing a portion of the only record available for studying effects of environmental change on the distribution, appearances, and genetic features of the world’s plants and fungi. The value of these resources depends on wise stewardship by the institutions where they are housed and on continued access to them for researchers and their students, who will become leaders in the next generation of scientists. Students and researcher derive inestimable benefits from using the Herbarium’s collections to study first-hand the diversity of organisms from diverse habitats and regions of the world. The Herbarium has been instrumental in the careers of many leading biologists, both inside and outside academia, and is an essential component of the life sciences research and teaching at the University of Michigan.