About KU Botany
About the Herbarium
The R.L. McGregor Herbarium (Index Herbariorum: KANU) houses approximately 454,000 plant specimens comprising exsiccatae, fungi, and seed-, boxed, and fluid-preserved specimens. Sixty-five percent of the collection represents the flora of the grassland biome of central North America. While the focus of the Herbarium is Great Plains flora, we also collect, and accession into the collection, specimens from other areas of North America and the world.
The herbarium also houses a library of 1,400 books and 14,000 scientific articles, and a collection of 50,000 photographic slides.
Study of the Great Plains Flora
The North American Great Plains is a unique and important biome. It covers 2.6 million square kilometers with tallgrass, mixed, and shortgrass prairie. Its rich soils have made it an agriculturally important area. As a result, few untouched places remain.
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 current and 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 study and care of the herbarium’s holdings is accomplished because the herbarium’s staff has knowledge not only of plant systematics, ecology, and morphology, but also of collection care and management.