George S. Vasey Herbarium (ISU)

est. 1868

   The Herbarium was established soon after the founding of the university and represents the oldest scholarly collection at Illinois State University.  George S. Vasey was ISU's first botanist and was first curator of the herbarium, and thus it is quite appropriate that the collection now bears his name.  Vasey's writing are a rich source of information about the natural history of the Illinois region.  Vasey later became the head curator of the United States National Herbarium.  During his career he collected and discovered many species, and as a prominent member of the United States' botanical community, a number of species honor him by bearing his name.  Some of the original natural history museum gave rise to the Illinois Natural History Survey, but many of the original specimens remained at ISU.  The collection is housed presently in Felmley Science Annex, room 132. 

    The Vasey Herbarium houses some 50,000-60,000 specimens representing over 4500 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 some of the earliest collections of plants in central Illinois, an important resource for conservation and restoration.  The Herbarium also houses teaching collections of fungi, slime molds, fossils, economic botany specimens, and algae. 

    In addition to extensive collections of central Illinois prairies and woodlands dating to the middle 1800s, the Herbarium has many specimens collected from the mountains of western United States and 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 back to the early 1800s.

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

    A searchable species list is now being developed, and will soon be available.  For information about holdings and use of the herbarium collection, you may email me at jearmstr @ 

                                                                                Joseph E. Armstrong

                                                                                Head Curator

                                                                                Office: FSA 123    TEL: 309 438 2601