Vermont's principal botanical collection

The Pringle Herbarium serves systematic and floristics research both regionally and globally, with a geographic focus on Vermont and the New World tropics. Established in 1902, the collection holds over 360,000 sheets of mounted plants and fungi. It is the second largest herbarium in New England.

  • Michael Sundue looking at a fern specimen

    Pringle Curators Explore the "Last Unknown"

    In a study published in the journal Nature, Pringle curators Michael Sundue and David Barrington, along with two other UVM collaborators, joined a global team of researchers from 56 institutions to present the first expert-verified checklist to the vascular plants of New Guinea and surrounding islands. New Guinea, botanically one of the least explored places on earth, also turns out to be the most diverse.

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Overview of Our Collections

The collections of our namesake, Cyrus Guernsey Pringle (1838-1911), a self-taught plant breeder and botanist with 1200 type specimens to his name, form the foundation of our herbarium. Pringle exchanged over 500,000 sheets with two dozen herbaria around the world, bringing in a geographically and taxonomically diverse representation of the world’s flora. His rich offerings, many from pioneering expeditions in Mexico, Central America, and the southwestern United States, led exchange partners to send unusually choice specimens. Notably, the Berlin-Dahlem herbarium, later destroyed in World War II, sent specimens from Friedrich Sellow, one of the first European naturalists to explore Brazil.

The Pringle Herbarium holds the largest collection of Vermont flora in the world. Vermont’s climatic and edaphic diversity has drawn botanists for two centuries, and we house all of the major collections from the state, including the early herbaria of Frances and Adelia Penniman (ca. 1815), Charles Frost (1840s-’50s), and Joseph Torrey, former president of UVM (1840s). Now, the Pringle’s collections—fully imaged as of 2018—represent a broad cross-section of the North American flora and hail from every continent except Antarctica.

Vermont boasts a strong community of professionals documenting the diversity and distribution of the regional flora. In keeping with our state's reputation as a pacesetter in environmental policy, the Pringle Herbarium strives to coordinate its mission with natural resource planners, who regularly consult our collections and stimulate our research. We also host the state’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Flora, part of the Endangered Species Coalition.

Library and Archives

Our library and archives are open to researchers during regular hours or by appointment. We are not a lending library and are not integrated with the University library collection. However, scans of selected texts for research purposes are available by request. Cyrus Pringle's notebooks from 1869-1909 are available through ScholarWorks (institutional log-in required). A complete catalogue of Pringle's botanical publications is maintained by Pringle scholar Kathryn Mauz.

The Pringle Herbarium Library holds general botany titles and flora for vascular plants and bryophytes of the world, with an emphasis on the Americas. The nucleus of the library is the plant systematics collection, donated by the estate of pteridologist Hugh Churchill.

The Alice and Rolla Tryon Pteridophyte Library comprises systematic literature for ferns and lycophytes, with a focus on classification and nomenclature. The Tryons were prominent Harvard pteridologists who specialized in ferns of tropical America. Their personal research library was presented as a gift to the Pringle Herbarium in 2002 by Alice Tryon, who wished it to be available to scholars and students interested in the diversity and evolution of the ferns and lycophytes. The collection also includes the library of Danish botanist Carl Christensen (1872-1942), purchased by the Tryons, as well as literature from the personal collections of Hugh Churchill and David Barrington.

The herbarium's archives chronicle 200 years of New England botanical history through correspondence, photographs, and field notebooks. Of particular value are the papers of Cyrus Pringle, including his daily field journals, and archival materials of the Vermont Bird and Botanical Club.

Recent Publications from Our Research Group

Agnarsson, I., J.R. Ali, and D.S. Barrington. 2019. Vicariance Biogeography. Ecology. Oxford University Press.

Barrington, D.S., N.R. Patel, and M.W. Southgate. 2020. Inferring the impacts of evolutionary history and ecological constraints on spore size and shape in the ferns. Applications in Plant Sciences. In press.

Bauret, L., Rouhan, G., Hirai, R.Y., Perrie, L., Prado, J., Salino, A., Senterre, B., Shepherd, L., Sundue, M., Selosse, M.A. and Gaudeul, M. 2017. Molecular data, based on an exhaustive species sampling of the fern genus Rumohra (Dryopteridaceae), reveal a biogeographical history mostly shaped by dispersal and several cryptic species in the widely distributed Rumohra adiantiformis. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 185: 463–481.

Daru, B, D. Park, R. Primack, C. Willis, D. Barrington, T. Whitfeld, T. Seidler, P.  Sweeney, D. Foster, A. Ellison, and C. Davis. 2017. Widespread sampling biases in herbaria revealed from large-scale digitization. New Phytologist 217: 939–955.

Fawcett, S. and Sundue, M. 2016. Evidence of primary hemiepiphytism in Pleopeltis bradeorum (Polypodiaceae). Brittonia 1-8.

Fawcett, S., Phillips, T., Strand, M. et al. Folia Geobot. 2016. 51: 77. doi:10.1007/s12224-016-v9245-0

Field, A. R., Testo, W., Bostock, P. D., Holtum, J. A., & Waycott, M. 2016. Molecular phylogenetics and the morphology of the Lycopodiaceae subfamily Huperzioideae supports three genera: Huperzia, Phlegmariurus and Phylloglossum. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 94: 635–657.

Freitas, C., A. W. Meerow, J.-C. Pintaudd, A. Henderson, L. Noblick; F.R.C. Costa, C. E.v Barbosa, and D. S. Barrington. 2016. Phylogenetic analysis of Attalea (Arecaceae): insights on the historical biogeography of a recently diversified Neotropical plant group. Botanical Journalvof the Linnean Society 182: 287–302.

Gilman, A. V. 2015. New flora of Vermont. Bronx, New York: New York Botanical Garden Press

Jorgensen, S. A. and D. S. Barrington. 2017. Two Beringian origins for the allotetraploid fern Polystichum braunii (Dryopteridaceae). Systematic Botany 42: 6–16.

Labiak, P. H., Sundue, M. A., Rouhan, G., & Moran, R. C. 2015. Rhopalotricha, a New Subgenus of the Fern Genus Lastreopsis (Dryopteridaceae). American Fern Journal 105: 20–30.

Lyons, B, M.A. McHenry, and D.S. Barrington. 2017. Insights into evolution in Andean Polystichum (Dryopteridaceae) from expanded understanding of the cytosolic phosphoglucose isomerase gene. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 112: 36–46.

Mahley, J., Pittermann, J., Rowe, N., Baer, A., Watkins, J.E., Schuettpelz, E., Wheeler, J., Mehltreter, K., Windham, M., Testo, W. L., and Beck, J. 2018. Geometry, allometry and biomechanics of fern leaf petioles: their significance for the evolution of functional and ecological diversity within the Pteridaceae. Frontiers in Plant Science 9: 197–208.

Morero, R., D. S. Barrington, M. A. McHenry, J. P. S. Condack, and G. E. Barboza. 2016. Typifications and synonymy in Polystichum (Dryopteridaceae) from Chile and Argentina. Phytokeys 65: 91–105.

Morero, R.E., F. Chiarini, J. Urdampilleta, G. Barboza, and D.S. Barrington. 2015. Cytological study of Polystichum (Dryopteridaceae) species from southern South America. Australian Journal of Botany 63: 403–414.

Morero, R.E., R. Deanna, G.E. Barboza, and D.S. Barrington. 2019. Historical biogeography of the fern genus Polystichum (Dryopteridaceae) in Austral South America. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 137: 168–189.

Patel, N.R., C.X. Li, L. B. Zhang, and D. Barrington. 2018. Biodiversity and apomixis: insights from the East–Asian holly ferns in Polystichum section Xiphopolystichum. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127: 345–355.

Ranker, T. A., & Sundue, M. A. 2015. Why are there so few species of ferns? Trends in Plant Science. 20: 402–403.

Schmitt, M., Mehltreter, K., Sundue, M., Testo W.L., Watanabe, T., and Jansen, S. 2017. The evolution of aluminum accumulation in ferns and lycophytes.  American Journal of Botany 104: 573–583.

Schuettpelz, E., Rouhan, G., Pryer, K.M., Rothfels, C.J., Prado, J., Sundue, M.A., Windham, M.D., Moran, R.C. and Smith, A.R. 2018. Are there too many fern genera? Taxon, 67: 473–480.

Schuettpelz, E., Schneider, H., and The Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group (Sundue is an organizer; Barrington, Testo, and Fawcett as co–authors). 2016. A community-derived classification for extant lycophytes and ferns. Journal of Systematics and Evolution. 54: 563–603.

Sessa, E. B., Testo, W., & Watkins, J. E. 2016. On the widespread capacity for, and functional significance of, extreme inbreeding in ferns. New Phytologist, 211, 1108–1119.

Shang, H., Sundue, M.A., Wei, R., Wei, X.P., Luo, J.J., Liu, L., Schwartsburd, P.B., Yan, Y.H. and Zhang, X.C. 2018. Hiya: A new genus segregated from Hypolepis in the fern family Dennstaedtiaceae based on phylogenetic evidence and character evolution. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 127: 449–458.

Southgate, M.W., N.R. Patel, and D.S. Barrington. 2019. Ecological outcome of allopolyploidy in Adiantum (Pteridaceae): niche intermediacy and expansion into novel habitats. Rhodora 121: 108–135.

Sundue, M. A., Testo, W. L., & Ranker, T. A. 2015. Morphological innovation, ecological opportunity, and the radiation of a major vascular epiphyte lineage. Evolution, 69: 2482–2495.

Sundue, M. and Poinar, G. 2016. An extinct grammitid fern genus from Dominican amber, with revision of Grammitis succinea. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology.

Sundue, M. and Testo, W. 2016. Parapolystichum novoguineense (comb. nov.; Dryopteridaceae) from New Guinea. Phytotaxa, 243: 193–196.

Sundue, M., Olivares, I. and Kessler, M. 2018. Ascogrammitis lehnertii (Polypodiaceae): A New and Dominant Understory-Species from a Diverse Community of Grammitid Ferns in the Andes of Ecuador. Systematic Botany 43: 709–716.

Sundue, M., Sylvester, S. P., Kessler, M., Lyons, B., Ranker, T. A., & Morden, C. W. 2015. A New Species of Moranopteris (Polypodiaceae) from Inaccessible Ledges in the High Andes of Peru. Systematic Botany, 40: 652–657.

Sundue, M.A. 2017. Ceradenia spectabilis (Polypodiaceae), a New Species from Cerro del Torrá, Colombia. American Fern Journal, 107: 193–199.

Testo, W. and Sundue, M. 2016. A 4000–species dataset provides new insight into the evolution of ferns. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 105: 200–211.

Testo, W. L. 2018. Novelties in Costa Rican Pityrogramma: a new species and a new hybrid from the Osa Peninsula. American Fern Journal 108: 27–33.

Testo, W. L. and Sundue, M. A. 2018. Are rates of species diversification and body size evolution coupled in the ferns? American Journal of Botany 105: 1–11.

Testo, W. L., Øllgaard, B., Field, A. R., Almeida, T., Kessler, M., and Barrington, D. 2018. Phylogenetic systematics, morphological evolution, and natural groups in Neotropical Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 125: 1–13.

Testo, W., A. Field, and D. Barrington. 2018. Overcoming among-lineage rate heterogeneity to infer the divergence times and biogeography of the clubmoss family Lycopodiaceae. Journal of Biogeography 2018: 1–13.

Testo, W., E. Sessa, and D. Barrington. 2019. The rise of the Andes promoted rapid diversification in Neotropical Phlegmariurus (Lycopodiaceae). New Phytologist New Phytologist 222: 604–613.

Testo, W., Haines, A., & Gilman, A. V. 2016. Huperzia continentalis (Lycopodiaceae), a new species of gemmiferous clubmoss separated from Huperzia haleakalae. Systematic Botany, 41,vdoi: 10.1600/036364416X693982.

Testo, W.L., J.E. Watkins, Jr., and D.S. Barrington. 2015. Dynamics of asymmetrical hybridization in North American wood ferns: reconciling patterns of inheritance with gametophyte reproductive biology. New Phytologist. 206: 785–795.

Testo, W.L., Sundue, M. and Vasco, A. 2017. Diplazium hybrids involving D. plantaginifolium and D. ternatum from Mexico and Central America. Brittonia 69: 1–12.

Wei, R., Xiang, Q., Schneider, H., Sundue, M. A., Kessler, M., Kamau, P. W., Hidayat, A. and Zhang, X. 2015. Eurasian origin, boreotropical migration and transoceanic dispersal in the pantropical fern genus Diplazium (Athyriaceae). Journal of Biogeography 42: 1809–1819.

Wolf, P. G., T. A. Robinson, M. G. Johnson, M. A. Sundue, W. L. Testo, and C. J. Rothfels. 2018. Target sequence capture of nuclear-encoded genes for phylogenetic analysis in ferns. Applications in Plant Sciences 6: e10048.


Specimen Loans

Loans of specimens are available to established herbaria for study by their staff, associated professionals and students. Returned loans must be annotated unless a specific explanation is provided to the curator. Contact us to request a loan.

Destructive Sampling Policy

Destructive sampling of Pringle specimens is possible with written request to our curator, David Barrington, including a justification for the sampling and an indication of the likelihood that the results of the sampling (ordinarily molecular-genetic information) will reach the scientific community via a publication or a common portal such as Genbank. The returned specimens need to be annotated with the nature of the material removed and, if possible, the relevant publication.

woman looking at mounted dried plant through microscope


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