Dr. Robert F. Naczi, the Arthur G. Cronquist Curator of North American Botany at the New York Botanical Garden in New York City, spent three days at Eastern Kentucky University recently to conduct research and present a seminar.
Naczi came to Eastern to perform research in the Ronald L. Jones Herbarium, which is located in the University’s spacious, new Science Building, houses the largest collection of its kind in Kentucky with more than 100,000 research-quality specimens and is an essential resource for understanding plant diversity in the southeastern U.S.
Naczi also presented a plant conservation seminar titled “Conservation Challenges in the Flora of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada.”
According to Dr. Brad Ruhfel of the EKU Biological Sciences faculty, Naczi was conducting research with specimens for his work on the New Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada, as well as a few systematic revisionary projects.
“He consulted our specimens in several vascular plant families,” Ruhfel noted, “but especially the grass family Poaceae (particularly the genus Dichanthelium) and the sedge family Cyperaceae (several genera, especially Carex). These are two of the most species-rich families in the Kentucky flora.”
Researchers and students use the Jones Herbarium collections regularly for similar projects, especially since the University was funded by the National Science Foundation to image all its collections and make them available online. To date, more than 95,600 specimens are imaged and available online at www.sernecportal.org to anyone with an internet connection. The department recently acquired the Ralph L. Thompson Herbarium of Berea College, which increased EKU’s collection by approximately 25,000 specimens.
To date, EKU faculty and staff associated with the Jones Herbarium have produced more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and technical reports and 18 master’s theses based on research conducted within EKU’s collection. The Jones Herbarium, established in 1974, is named for Dr. Ronald L. Jones, a retired Foundation professor of biological sciences at EKU and the author of “Plant Life of Kentucky” and co-author of “Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee.”
To learn more about the Jones Herbarium at EKU, visit herbarium.eku.edu.
The New York Botanical Garden, located on 250 acres in the Bronx, operates one of the world’s largest plant research and conservation programs, with nearly 600 staff members. The Garden is also a major educational institution, attracting more than 1 million visitors annually.