Ferns & Lycophytes of the BRIT Herbarium

March 19, 2020

BRIT Fern and lycophyte specimens by the numbers
Ferns and lycophyte specimens in the BRIT herbarium.

Many herbaria in the world are represented by curators and research communities that are very familiar with the character and content of their collections, but very few of these have access to accurate numbers and specimen inventories. Digitization funding is a game changer that will provide us with the means to better preserve the collections we hold in public trust. A digitized specimen is a tool that allows access to scientific vouchers and observations that span hundreds of years – an essential component to research that deals with past environmental change and future models.

The Philecology Herbarium at the Botanical Research Institute is one of 36 herbaria and museums throughout the U.S. representing the Pteridopytes Collections Consortium TCN, a three-year project funded through the National Science Foundation’s Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections (ADBC) program (grant number 1802270). The project's goal is to digitize and web-mobilize over 1.6 million extant and fossil pteridophytes (more here: https://pteridophytes.berkeley.edu/). Participating in this grant has allowed us to liberate our fern and lycophytes specimens and share them digitally with you!  For appointments to visit the collection for research, please email: herbarium@brit.org.

Access the specimens digitized by the Pteridophytes Collections Consortium here: http://www.pteridoportal.org/portal/

Join the effort as a community scientist: Notes from Nature (US SE Biodiversity) --> Dr. T's Ferntastic Collection.

Our Fern Team at BRIT is led by Dr. Alejandra Vasco, who has marshaled the effort to produce an exhibit about the ca. 37,300 ferns and lycophytes in the BRIT Philecology Herbarium. You can download a PDF of the exhibit in English and Spanish here, and take a closer look at two featured specimens further into this article.

The physical exhibit created by Alejandra Vasco, Jessica Lane, Ashley Bordelon, and Tiana Rehman can be viewed for the next two months in the Upper Atrium Research Gallery at BRIT on a guided or self-guided tour. Please check the BRIT Hours and Location to confirm when the building is open and Tours at BRIT for free scheduled tours of the institution.

Isoëtes butleri Engelm. specimens collected in Wise Co., Texas, U.S.A in the BRIT collection.
Isoëtes butleri Engelm. specimens collected in Wise Co., Texas, U.S.A in the BRIT collection.
Dryopteris arguta (Kaulf.) Maxon specimen collected by John Muir in 1875, in the BRIT Collection.
Dryopteris arguta (Kaulf.) Maxon specimen collected by John Muir in 1875, in the BRIT Collection.


This post is part of our "Cabinet Curiosities” series that explores significant items from the Herbarium collection. Posts are written by staff, volunteers, and interns. Read more from the series here.

Leave A Response

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Related Articles

The Living Herbarium: A Life’s Work

Article originally published in the The Leaflet (November 2013) by Brian Witte, PhD, BRIT Research Associate Astragalus siliceus , Bob Hutchins 8787, Torrance Co. NM, May 1980 A herbarium can be as much a cabinet of mysteries as it is a repository of knowledge. Some mysteries are the results of quotidian clerical errors, simple misspellings, and the other inevitable vexations of managing a million-specimen collection. Some mysteries, however, are deeper and more gripping. In my year of volunteering and working with BRIT’s Philecology Herbarium, I have become consumed by one of the latter mysteries. My journey began, as many do, with a walk through the stacks, scanning the unofficial storage areas atop the cabinets, looking for boxes of specimens to prepare for mounting. It’s a little-known...
Read More >

Nameless in the Living Herbarium

Article originally published in The Leaflet (March 2014) by Brian Witte, PhD, BRIT Research Associate Identifying a nameless specimen brings tremendous satisfaction. Naming seems simple. It’s just two words, after all. And yet, a world of stories is implicit in every name. Some of that story is explicit in the labels we affix to specimens: the when, where, and who of the moment it was collected. Much of the story, though, is implicit in the name of the plant. The two words of a scientific name, genus and species, refer to the place of the plant in 4 billion years of evolutionary history. Every species within a genus is, in theory, more closely related than to any species in any other genus. Likewise, all the genera grouped within a family are more closely related than to any genus in a dif...
Read More >

Frontera, Texas

It's 1852 in the newly-formed Republic of Texas. A devoted botanist collects a Cryptantha oblata specimen in the forgotten town of Frontera...
Read More >

Botanical Specimens with a Mysterious Past!

“Wow!” is the most frequent comment from visitors viewing the two oldest plant specimens in the BRIT Herbarium, both of which were collected by Dr. Thaddeus Haenke in 1791.
Read More >