The BHSU Herbarium (our official acronym is BHSC) holds about 50,000 vascular plant specimens and is rapidly growing. The Herbarium includes the world’s largest number of specimens from the ecologically unique Black Hills, and the surrounding region. Most of the specimens are angiosperms (flowering plants) with some gymnosperms (mostly conifers). Collections date to the 1870s.
Local Collections of Vascular Plants
Many of the early specimens of the Herbarium were collected locally by Frank L. Bennett, a faculty member at Black Hills State from 1917-1949. Myrtle Kravig added nearly 1000 plants to the collection. J. R. Thomasson, a faculty member from 1977-1982 contributed a number of extant and fossil specimens.
Non-local Collections of Vascular Plants
In addition to specimens from the Black Hills and the surrounding region, the Herbarium contains specimens from many places outside the Great Plains. Many plants from the Hawaiian flora were given to the collection by Otto Degener. Degener is noted for publishing Flora Hawaiiensis. Another well-known contributor is P.A. Munz, author of California Flora. The extant vascular plant collection includes a limited number of specimens from around the world; including collections by A. Eastwood, P.O. Schallert, L.S. Rose, J.A. Calder, B.C. Tharp, W.H. Duncan, A.E. Radford, J.M. Gillet, C.G. Pringle, P.A. Munz, E.J. Palmer, K. Biswas, and B. Rosengurtt.
The BHSU Herbarium is home to one of the largest collections of Miocene age plant fossils from the Great Plains of North America with about 30,000 individual fossils housed from throughout the Great Plains. Type collections of several fossil species from J.R. Thomasson and Mark Gabel are held in the collection. Grasses (Poaceae), hackberries (Celtis, Ulmaceae) sedges (Cyperaceae), and borages (Boraginaceae) are well represented.
The collection of mycology is primarily a result of the research of Audrey Gabel. The 4000 specimens of fungi and slime molds present in the Herbarium include nearly all of the state records for South Dakota.