Department of Plant Biology

University of Illinois Herbarium


For information, contact:

David Seigler, Curator
Phone: 217-333-7577 (office); 217-244-1331 (lab)
Fax: 217-244-7246

Carol Shearer
Curator of Mycological Collections



The University of Illinois Herbarium is one of the primary biological resources of the Department of Plant Biology. Founded by Professor T. J. Burrill soon after the opening of the University in 1868, the Herbarium has played an important role in research, undergraduate and graduate instruction and public service. Today, it is vital to the research of students and faculty in plant systematics at the University of Illinois. The Herbarium also serves as a reference and documentation resource for students in areas such as ecology, anatomy, morphology, phycology, mycology, and paleobotany. It is used directly in several undergraduate and graduate courses in plant systematics and it constitutes the major source of authentic specimens for identification of vascular plants by University of Illinois personnel both for research purposes and for public service.


Located in the Natural History Building, the University of Illinois Herbarium is the 9th largest of university herbaria and 16th among the 244 major national herbaria. The approximately 450,000 specimens provide an excellent coverage of theplantsof Illinois, including many historically important collections. They provide very good representation of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountain flora, good representation of the rest of the U.S., Canada and Mexico and a useful number of world-wide accessions.

Branches of the herbarium hold extensive mycological (50,000 specimens) and paleobotanicall collections (18,000 specimens).

Important collectors whose major collections are deposited in the Herbarium are: L. F. Koch (bryophytes), F. L. Stevens (fungi -- with many type specimens), J. T. Buchholz (New Caledonia and gymnosperms), Wm. Trelease (Piper, Quercus, among them, a significant number of type collections), G. N. Jones (western U.S., Robert Allerton Park and Salix) and A. G. Jones (Aster).

Illinois material includes specimens of well known collectors such as V. H. Chase, G. N. Jones, E. J. Hill, W. S. Moffatt, S. B. Mead, G. P. Clinton, F. Brendel, and P. Shildneck.

The Herbarium has a full time curator and technical assistant. Although one cannot, strictly speaking, place a monetary value on items which cannot be replaced, it is estimated that our collections alone are worth more than $2,000,000.


In addition to the Herbarium collections, several types of equipment are available to workers in the Herbarium. Along with research microscopes in laboratories of the Curator and the Herbarium Research Associates and optical equipment in the Herbarium, there is a photographic copy stand, plant driers, refrigerators and a deep freeze. Work space includes an office for the Curator, cubicles and desks for students, as well as room for plant sorting and mounting in the Herbarium. Other departmental and university research facilities are available to herbarium staff and students, such as scanning and transmission electron microscopes, greenhouses, experimental garden plots, natural areas, growth chambers, and well-equipped molecular laboratories.


In addition to the extensive collections of taxonomic literature in the biology and main university libraries, we have a good ivorking library in the Herbarium, with more than 1000 volumes dealing primarily with systematics, phylogeny and evolution. We have several major bibliographic and reference works, a collection of approximately 2000 reprints and a bibliographical subject index compiled by the late G. N. Jones.

Public Service

A major function of the Herbarium staff is the identification of unknown plant material. This material is of two types -- specimens sent or brought in by the general public and those submitted by scientists in other fields. The Herbarium staff frequently has requests for identification of plants from other departments of the University such as Agronomy, Anthropology, Crop Science, EEE (Ecology, Ethology and Evolution), Entomology, Landscape Architecture , and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.

Approximately 100 visitors (other than those from our institution) come to use our facilities each year. Many of these are botanists from other universities who examine our specimens as a part of their studies.

Curatorial Activities

In order to improve our collections, we exchange approximately 4000 specimens per year with other herbaria. We send out loans of ca. 3000 specimens per year to investigators from recognized herbaria who request the specimens for research purposes, and we borrow ca. 3000 specimens from other institutions for our own research programs.

Herbarium Hours

The Herbarium is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by appointment. All interested persons are invited to visit, but should arrange a convenient time with the Curator (333-7577 or 333-2796). Tours and field trips for small groups can also be arranged upon advanced request.


The research of several faculty members in the Department of Plant Biology and their students depends to some extent upon the Herbarium. Among these are Drs. Downie, Jones, Seigler, Shearer and Crane. Other users are from the Illinois Natural History Survey.

Herbarium Personnel

Dr. D. S. Seigler, Curator of Vascular Plants

Dr. C. A. Shearer, Curator of Fungi

Herbarium Associates


School of Integrative Biology
Department of Plant Biology