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About the Herbarium

The EKU Herbarium was founded in 1974 by Dr. J. Stuart Lassetter, who curated it until 1981. At that time the collection numbered about 9,000 specimens. From 1981 to the present, Dr. Ronald L. Jones has served as the Curator.  Dr. Brad Ruhfel, who began at EKU in Fall, 2012, is also now functioning as a curator. See “Current Staff” for information on other current and former faculty associated with the herbarium and their contact information.  As of Spring 2013, the collection numbers almost 75,000 specimens, and nearly all have been databased.  Note the link to our searchable herbarium database website, developed and designed by Mr. Robert Pace, a current graduate student. The database, called IKnew, is an outgrowth of the “Index Kentuckiensis” software developed by the late Mr. Charlie Lapham of Glasgow.  Mr. Lapham was a pioneer in herbarium database work, and worked (voluntarily) for more than a decade to perfect a system that eventually became widely used in the southeastern U.S at a number of other herbaria.  We are currently initiating an imaging project aimed at obtaining an image of every specimen in the herbarium and making it available online.  .   The EKU Herbarium is the largest collection in Kentucky, and the second largest in the Kentucky-Tennessee region (surpassed only by the University of Tennessee).

Most specimens are from central and eastern Kentucky, but also there is a good representation of western Kentucky and of the southeastern United States.  There is also a set of woody plant specimens recently collected in Costa Rica.  Nearly all of our specimens are of vascular plants (ferns, gymnosperms, wildflowers, vines, shrubs, and trees); there are only a few collections of algae and bryophytes.  A number of important sets of specimens are housed at the EKU Herbarium, including sets from Lilley Cornett Woods, Maywoods Environmental and Educational Laboratory, Pine Mountain, Breaks Interstate Park, Brodhead Swamp, the headwater regions of the Green River, collections from the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission, collections of Mary Wharton, E.T. Browne, Raymond Athey,  and county collections from Madison, Estill, Jackson, and Garrard Counties.

The EKU Herbarium provides loans for systematic studies, and annotations are welcome. The herbarium has participated in several exchange programs, and we are interested in developing more exchange opportunities. Gifts of labeled specimens or duplicates for identification are welcome. Visits by the general public and specialists are welcome, but please call ahead for appointments.  The herbarium phone number is 859-622-6257.

The herbarium is always in need of volunteer help.  Please contact us if you wish to volunteer in such activities as mounting specimens, typing labels, taking photographs, filing specimens, and similar work.

The mailing address of the EKU Herbarium is:  Department of Biological Sciences,  Science Building, Room 3238, 521 Lancaster Avenue, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY 40475.

The Herbarium is physically located in Science Building Room 1206.

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