How to arrange a new Herbarium?

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Wed Jan 30 07:23:39 CST 2002

At 04:45 PM 1/30/02 +1100, you wrote:

>Here at NSW, we use an order that is 20 years old: a slightly modified
>version of Rolf Dahlgren's classification (prior to that we had used
>Engler and Prantl).

Now, to me, this is a cogent example *against* systematic order.  You are
telling me that your herbarium is arranged according to a sequence that is
used in virtually *no* manuals, floras, monographs, etc.  A system that,
because of a terrible auto accident, will never be brought to fruition or
expounded fully, that, in a practical sense, "has no future."  What, then,
does it teach students who become familiar with it?

I appreciate the many points that have been made about the value of a
phylogenetic sequence for herbaria.  (But I would note that all can be
achieved in other ways -- the herbarium is not our sole teaching
tool.)  All are true, and are of value.  But that value is seriously
compromised, and outweighed by practical considerations, by the labile
nature of our classifications.  I'm know for a fact that the Dahlgren
system looked pretty good in 1982, as the APG looks pretty good right
now.   But subsequent developments have made Dahlgren a poor choice from
today's perspective.  Future events will undoubtedly render APG
untenable.  Until our classifications achieve a higher level of stability (
a goal I do believe is achievable in the near future), pragmatism will have
to outweigh the ideal.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:       lammers at
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous

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