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What is a herbarium?

A herbarium is a museum dedicated to plants. Collected and identified plants are dried, pressed, and then attached to special papers (herbarium paper). Exact locality information on the collected plant and information about the collector(s) are noted. These specimens are then stored in cabinets. With proper curation, individual specimens can last for hundreds of years! Herbaria are the refuges of the geographic histories of plants--we know where certain species lived and we can track their spread or decline thanks to herbaria! Herbarium specimens can also be utilized for genetic analyses. These molecular analyses can confirm a specimen's identification, give information on its genealogy, and offer hypotheses about its evolution.

What does the Walter Almond Kelley Herbarium specialize in?

The Kelley Herbarium houses over 5000 specimens that are mainly dedicated to the flora of the Great Basin. Because of an interest in certain tropical plants on the part of the faculty, some members of the genus Piper (collected in Costa Rica and Ecuador) are also represented in the collection. Species of Cryptantha (a genus found in the Great Basin) are also well represented in the collection.


The Kelley Herbarium is currently located on the third floor in the west wing of the Wubben Science Building.

Contact Information

If you would like to access the collection, please call or email Dr. Stephen Stern, Director of the Walter Almond Kelley Herbarium. He can be reached in his office, WS 221A, at 970.248.1674.