W.P. Fraser Herbarium (SASK)
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan
51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N 5A8
Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS A HERBARIUM?
A herbarium (pronounced her-bare'-ee-um) is a museum or library of plants used for reference and research.
HOW ARE THE PLANTS STORED?
Herbaria consist of collections of pressed and dried plant specimens that are mounted with labels on firm paper-boards. The labels have the plant names, collection localities, habitats, frequencies and dates, and the collector's name and number.
WOULDN'T LIVE PLANTS BE MORE USEFUL IN BOTANICAL RESEARCH?
While the dead dried herbarium plants may seem unattractive when compared with living green plants, they represent a large amount of plants from a wide geographical range that can be accessed quickly. To try and grow all of the plants found in the herbarium in a greenhouse would be impossible!
WHO IS ALLOWED TO USE THE HERBARIUM?
Advanced students, and researchers are allowed direct use of the main collection, but only upon curatorial approval and after instruction on proper herbarium usage. The main research and reference collection is restricted to those with herbarium training because of the fragility of the specimens combined with their high research and archival value. Historical and type specimens, for example, are irreplaceable and invaluable, but equally so may be records of rare species or unusual variants.
WHAT IS THE EDUCATION FUNCTION OF THE HERBARIUM?
By allowing students access to the herbarium, students can see examples of different kinds of plants and their families. Students study the external morphological characteristics, ecological adaptations, evolutionary trends, and species variability. Examples of characteristic plants of different biomes over the world can often be seen in herbaria.
The W.P. Fraser Herbarium owns a teaching collection, consisting of over 3000 specimens. The teaching collection is used for class material and demonstrations. Many of these specimens are mounted on harder boards and are plastic-covered for increased durability.
WHAT PUBLIC SERVICE ROLES DOES THE HERBARIUM HAVE?
As herbaria at most public institutions, the Fraser Herbarium serves a public service role through:
* providing expert
HOW ARE THE PLANT SPECIMENS USED IN RESEARCH?
The collection is used in several ways
studying variations, distributions, frequencies, habitats, phenology
If you have any questions not answered here e-mail the herbarium technician and we will try and answer them for you.