May 16, 2022

NPR: “Centuries-Old Plant Collection Now Online — A Treasure Trove For Researchers”

From National Public Radio:

There’s a new effort underway make hundreds of thousands of dried and preserved plants collected along the East Coast available through a digital database.

For centuries, explorers, scientists, and amateur botanists scoured the country to document and preserve plant species. Once prized like fine art, the collections were often bequeathed to institutions that housed herbaria, or libraries for plants.


Rick McCourt, botany curator at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia, helps manage the oldest herbarium in North America. The herbarium has an estimated one and a half million plant species in its collection. About 35,000 plant species were collected along the East Coast.

The new database will allow researchers to answer questions about climate change, conservation and urbanization. Questions like: “How has the environment changed?” said McCourt. “What plants occur where? Do they occur someplace differently now than they used to? Are they vanished or gone from an area?”

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See Also: Databases From the The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

See Also: Network Integrated Biocollections Alliance (NIBA) ||| Search Specimen Portal

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.