The Study of Great Plains Flora

The North American Great Plains is a unique and important biome. It covers 2.6 million sq km with tallgrass, mixed, and shortgrass prairie. Its rich soils have made it an agriculturally important area. As a result, few untouched places remain.

Mixed grass prairie at Sorum Dam GPA, Perkins Co SD

We study the flora of the Great Plains for four important reasons. First, to infer the evolutionary and ecological patterns of life. Second, to produce data for modeling plant distributions. Third, to foster appreciation and understanding of the natural world. And fourth, to provide information that addresses human resource needs, including food, fiber, and recreation.

Natural history specimens are the raw materials of biodiversity studies, and we must preserve both specimens and their associated data for future investigators.

We collect and accept specimens from the Great Plains and other areas of the world. With this comes the responsibility for caring for the specimens to ensure their physical longevity and the integrity of their associated data.


The Ronald L. McGregor Herbarium is dedicated to the study of the flora of the Great Plains of North America. Our goal is to expand our understanding of past and current plant diversity and to preserve this knowledge for the future.

This is facilitated by the collection, preservation, and management of plant specimens by professional staff. Learn more...

Clematis fremontii photo

Botany Facilities phot


The study of botany at the University of Kansas is as old as the university itself. With the passage of the act that established the university in March, 1864, the state legislature authorized the regents “to expend such portions of the income of the University funds for the purchase of a cabinet of natural history.” The natural history collection itself was founded two years later.

Nymphaea-odoora-subsp photo


For those interested in the study of plants and in particular their taxonomy and floristic characteristics, we have assembled a list of resources and links to databases that we regularly consult in our studies.

Craig Freeman photo

Herbarium Senior Scientist Recognized With Achievement Award

Craig Freeman, curator-in-charge and senior scientist in the Division of Botany at the Biodiversity Institute’s R.L. McGregor Herbarium has been named one of two 2013 recipients of the KU Research Achievement Award. The award is the highest honor given annually to a full-time academic staff researcher working in a department or research center on KU’s Lawrence campus.