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The A. Louise Baartz Memorial Herbarium

WHAT IS AN HERBARIUM?

An herbarium is a collection of dried and pressed plant specimens, which are mounted on archival quality herbarium paper.  A good specimen will contain enough material to properly identify the plant, and will include stems, leaves, flowers and/or fruits, and roots if it is an annual plant.  Each specimen has a label with location and habitat information about where the specimen was collected (city, state, county, country, township, range, street intersections, GPS coordinates, etc.), in what type of soil it was found, with what other plants it was growing, the slope aspect, proximity to water, etc.  The collection date and collector's name also appear on the label, and there is often a collection number.  The scientific name and plant family are also included on the label, as well as the name of the person who identified the specimen.

Why have an herbarium? 

  1. To help identify and learn the plants of a region.
  2. To learn distributions and habitat requirements of different species.
  3. To have a historical record documenting past distributions and diversity in order to study migration patterns, evolutionary trends, and for conservation studies.
  4. For taxonomic studies; allows us to observe variation within and between taxa, and provides information for construction of taxonomic keys.
  5. Provides locality data to find specific plants for study, collect seeds, and monitor populations.
  6. Provides documentation and accountability; can verify results of surveys or studies with voucher specimens.
  7. Provides material for molecular analyses to determine relationships between taxa and variability within taxa.

History of the A. Louise Baartz Memorial Herbarium at VVC:

A. Louise Baartz was a former biology professor at Victor Valley College.  During her early years of teaching she taught mainly botany, and she wished to have an herbarium collection for teaching purposes.  She began an herbarium collection under the supervision of Wilbur Mayhew of the University of California at Riverside.  In 1973 she registered the Victor Valley College herbarium collection, then with only around 300 specimens, with the California Department of Agriculture.  Baartz became involved teaching anatomy, and did not continue to collect specimens.  She passed away in the late 1990s.  The herbarium collection was revived in 1995-1996, when the VVC Biology Department moved into the new science building.  Pam MacKay, who was hired to teach botany in the early 1990s, suggested that a storeroom in the new building be converted to an herbarium.  The department agreed to purchase herbarium cabinets, a drying oven, plant presses, and herbarium supplies, and MacKay began collecting.  An informal collaboration was established with the Andrew C. Sanders, curator of the herbarium at the University of California at Riverside.  The collection now contains 3,000 to 4,000 specimens from the Mojave Desert, southern California, the southeastern Sierra Nevada, and southeastern Arizona.

How to access the Victor Valley College Herbarium:

The VVC Herbarium does not have regular open hours.  You can access the herbarium by contacting the curator, Pam MacKay (mackayp@vvc.edu , link to Pam MacKay's home page , or 760-245-4271, ext. 2467), to set up an appointment.

Links to information on rare plants of the Mojave Desert

Short-joint Beavertail

Desert Cymopteris

Cushenbury Milkvetch

White-margined Beard-Tongue

Mojave Monkeyflower

Parish's Phacelia

Parish's Alkali-Grass

Charlotte's Phacelia

Mojave Tarplant

Parish's Daisy

Cushenbury Oxytheca

Links to other herbaria and plant groups

Links to plant and botanical societies

Link to University of California at Riverside Herbarium

Link to herbarium at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Cushenbury Buckwheat

 

Last Updated: 2/4/08