Hugh D. Wilson wilson at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Mon Jul 29 07:27:55 CDT 1996

Joseph E. Laferriere says:

"Spinach, like most crops grown in momocultures, has a very narrow genetic base, so
on the level the physiologists are working there is probably not much
variation. Hence it would be a waste of time and money to grow the
things in carefully controlled environments, and a waste of herbarium
space to have hundreds of sterile spinach vouchers."

I think that anyone publishing any sort of scientific work on any
plant should set aside a voucher, deposit this in a local herbarium,
and cite the specimen in the publication.  The reasons for this are
fairly obvious.  Most crops 'grown in monoculture', including
spinach, include cultivars and geographic variants.  The common North
American supermarket cultivar could be displaced by another type in
50 years, and its also possible that the experimentalist's
identification as 'spinach' is in error.

Plant virologists work with 'Chenopodium quinoa' and other
Chenopodium species as indicators.  They *never* voucher and, as a
result, the 'type' of quinua used in the experiment is unknown and
misidentifications of other Chenopodium species - which are extensive - are

Maintenance of research vouchers *should* - in my view - be a
primary function of any herbarium and curators interested in moving
herbaria from the backwaters of Science *should* support and promote
this activity.

Hugh D. Wilson
Texas A&M University - Biology
h-wilson at tamu.edu (409-845-3354)

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