UConn’s George Safford Torrey Herbarium, with 200,000 specimens of plants, is a leading source of information for botanists throughout the world.
Its state-of-the art facility contains herbaceous and woody plants collected over the past 100-plus years both locally and from around the world. And now that its records have been digitized thanks to a National Science Foundation grant, the herbarium can be accessed by researchers, teachers, and students anywhere in the world, who can explore the collection online.
Donald Les, current director of the herbarium and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, says that UConn’s collection has grown from 100,000 items in 1992 to more than 200,000 over the past two decades. The NSF grant, received in 2009, provided the funds for the project, but it was UConn staff and students who put in endless hours photographing and scanning specimens and deciphering hand written notes dating back over a hundred years.
“When you click on an image,” Les says, “the result is amazing. The magnification is about 25x – which is what you get using a dissecting microscope. Everything is high resolution and gives a beautiful three-dimensional image.”