Here at the University of Minnesota Herbarium (J.F. Bell
Museum of Natural History), we have reached our first milestone – we have
finished photographing our first plant family, the Pinaceae (almost 1200
Anita F. Cholewa, Curator of the UM Herbarium (MIN) and Hannah Conley in front of their digitization light box and workstation.
The Pinaceae also will probably be our most difficult. Since pines produce thickened bulky cones,
these were often removed from the branches during the collecting stage to make
filing in the museum more efficient, but it now meant cones had to be reunited
with their branches, both barcoded, and both photographed. Given the thickness of some cones, this
was not always an easy task.
(Pinus lambertiana, sugar pine, branch and cone)
Additionally, spruces and hemlocks have a tendency to lose
their needles upon drying, leaving specimens looking like winter collections of
plant skeletons. Thankfully
most needles are captured during the drying stage and kept in small packets
attached to the specimens, but the flip side required us to remove some of
these needles so they could be photographed with the branch skeletons.
Although a difficult and time-consuming group of plants, the
Pinaceae also included some interesting specimens. Among our Minnesota plants was a collection of Tsuga canadensis (Canadian hemlock) that
consisted of a cross-section through the trunk of the most northwestern and
isolated population in the state.
And because our specimen database includes numerous collections from
national parks and adjacent states these were also photographed. These included historical
collections by Joseph Whipple Congdon from Yosemite, among the earliest
botanists collecting in that region.
canadensis, Canadian hemlock; right: Congdon collection of Pinus albicaulis, whitebark pine)
Article by Anita F. Cholewa, Curator of the UM Herbarium (MIN)