Cyrus Pringle Herbarium
      The Pringle Herbarium                                             
                  The Plant Biology Department at the University of Vermont                        




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            Overview of our Collection

             Profiles of Important Collections

             The Digital Herbarium

             Life of Cyrus Guernsey Pringle

             History of Torrey Hall

             Accessing our Herbarium

Overview of our Collection

The Pringle Herbarium, a facility of The Plant Biology Department at the University of Vermont, is a fully functional collection of dried plants. It is currently active as a resource for systematic and floristics research on a regional and international basis. The large collection is fortunately housed in a stable facility in Torrey Hall. Facilities at Torrey Hall include space for collections, as well as work and study space for staff, students and visiting scientists.

The Herbarium is fortunate to have strong associate libraries, the Pringle Library and the Tryon Pteridophyte Library, specializing in systematics and floristics, with an emphasis on ferns. Major recent donations bring the library to some 1,500 volumes. The library facility includes seminar and study space for herbarium-related activities.

The collection currently includes over 300,000 sheets of mounted and accessioned plants; it is the third largest herbarium in New England. Central to the herbarium are the extensive Mexican collections of its namesake, Cyrus G. Pringle (1838-1911). Pringle's aggressive exchange program with a suite of approximately two dozen international and national herbaria between 1885 & 1911 brought a large geographically and taxonomically diverse representation of the world's flora to the herbarium. Pringle's unusually rich exchange materials, including many isotypes from his pioneering explorations in northern Latin America and southwestern United States, led exchange partners to send unusually choice materials, for example the set of Sellow collections sent from Berlin's herbarium, representing the beginning of Europe's exploration of Brazil.

The herbarium is naturally the definitive repository for the flora of Vermont, including the largest Vermont flora collection in the world. Vermont's climatic and edaphic diversity has interested a community of plant floristicians and collectors for well over a century; the herbarium houses all of the major collections from the state, including the notable early herbaria of Penniman (ca. 1815) and Joseph Torrey, botanist and past president of this University (1840s). Recent activity has expanded the older collections of Pringle and others to build an extensive representation of the North American flora, and the institution has significant collections representing every continent except Antarctica. Currently we have an exchange program with 18 herbaria worldwide, and loans continue on an average of 7.6 loans of 359 specimens per year to herbaria across the United States and around the world.

The University of Vermont and its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recognize the Pringle Herbarium as a critical resource for research activity in systematics and plant diversity studies. It serves as both a center for systematic and floristic research at the University and as a frequently used resource for visitors and correspondents. Two practicing plant systematists are housed at the herbarium: Dave Barrington and Michael Sundue. In addition, one of the foremost floristicians in the state, Elizabeth Thompson, is housed here. Two graduate students in the Barrington lab also reside at the collection site in Torrey Hall. Interest from the plant systematics community largely centers on the two major emphases of the collections: northern Latin America and Vermont. We have
a record of extensive loan activity and visitation from specialists in floristics and systematics of Neotropical, especially Mexican and Brazilian groups. This interest stems from the critical early holdings in the collection, especially type materials and archival holdings of Pringle and other Neotropical collectors.
The current director's emphasis on and research cooperation with Latin American herbaria derives from this early emphasis of Pringle's.

Vermont has a strong community of professional workers specializing in documenting the diversity and distribution of the regional flora, which derives from the state's longstanding reputation as a pacesetter in the development of sound environmental policy. The Pringle Herbarium has had an increasing role in coordinating the efforts of the natural resources planning community with the mission of the herbarium. The herbarium benefits from the regular consultation of the collections by this group and by stimulating and expediting the deposit of specimens documenting floristic distribution and biotic variation. The herbarium also serves as the meeting place for the Scientific Advisory Committee on Flora (a key statutory advisory group to the rare and endangered species committee of the state).





Current Activity
  - Lending specimens to research institutions for systematic and evolutionary research by botanists (ca. 350 specimens per year)
  - Digitization: four grants currently provide funds for scanning and databasing type specimens, photographing and databasing New
    England vascular plant specimens, databasing bryophyte and lichen specimen data, and publishing the images and data through several 
    searchable internet portals. Present portals: Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria and Consortium of North
    American Lichen Herbaria. Portals to be added in the near future:
Consortium for Northeastern Herbaria and JSTOR Plant Science.
  -
Providing an educational resource to systematics courses at the University and to school groups in the region
  - Answering telephone, mail, and personal inquiries about plant identity and toxic characteristics
 
- Housing graduate students and professionals engaged in plant systematics and evolution research
 
- Exchanging duplicate specimens with 15 other similar units worldwide to ensure continued
    growth in the quality and coverage of the research resource (ca. 572 in and out per year)

 
- Mounting and inserting received collections into the main collection (ca. 2,500-3,000 per year)
  - Providing a meeting site for regional botanical groups

Size and Composition




   

















             

   



 
Size
242,600 vascular plant sheets
31,000 non-vascular plant sheets, packets etc.
10,100 unmounted specimens in cabinets
26,700 unmounted specimens in boxes

310,400 total plants in the herbarium
Taxonomic Representation
16,000 Pteridophytes
3,800 Gymnosperms
222,800 Angiosperms, including:
    32,600 Asteraceae
    11,300 Cyperaceae
    15,500 Fabaceae
    17,000 Poaceae
    13,500 Rosaceae
2,900 Algae
4,300 Lichens
11,300 Fungi
12,500 Bryophytes


242,600 total vascular plant sheets
31,000 total non-vascular plants

Geographic Representation
22%  Vermont
36%  U.S. and adjacent Canada (except Vermont)
14%  Mexico
9%    Latin America (except Mexico)
10%  Europe
4%    Africa
2%    Asia
3%    Australia and Oceania