George S. Vasey Herbarium (ISU)

   The herbarium at Illinois State University was established soon after the founding of the university in 1859.  George Vasey was ISU's first botanist and was first curator of the herbarium, which then was part of a natural history museum.  This museum gave rise to the Illinois Natural History Survey, but many of the original specimens remain at ISU.  Presently ISU's herbarium houses some 50,000-60,000 specimens representing over 4000 species.  The primary purpose of this collection is to support the educational and research function of the Department of Biological Sciences, but it also represents the earliest collections of plants in central Illinois, an important resource for conservation and restoration. 

    In addition to extensive collections of central Illinois prairies and woodlands dating to the middle 1800s, the herbarium has many collections from the mountains of western United States and from California.  The historically most important specimens were collected by George Vasey who accompanied John Wesley Powell on his geological expeditions exploring the Colorado Rocky Mountains (Lat. 40-41 N) area in 1868.   These specimens represent the earliest scientific collections from this area.  The herbarium also contains exchange specimens from Europe dating to the early 1800s.

    Taxonomically, some generic collections of Apiaceae and Scrophulariaceae (Rhinanthoideae), long time research interests of Tsan Ian Chuang, my predecessor, are quite extensive. 

                                                                                Joseph E. Armstrong

                                                                                Head Curator