The Harold M. Tucker Herbarium, located on the first floor of Boone Hall, is the oldest herbarium in Idaho. Since its founding by William Judson Boone in the early days of the College, the herbarium has been used extensively by students as well as botanists and botanical organizations from throughout the country. Boone turned over the management of the collection to former student and then-new botany professor Harold M. Tucker in 1930. Tucker knew the region's flora as well as anyone and took hundreds of students on botany field trips to the surrounding countryside. He added extensively to the collection until his death in 1959.
Replacing Tucker was legendary professor Patricia L. Packard, who taught botany and served as herbarium curator from 1959 to 1989. Under Packard, the herbarium collection grew several times over, moved to its present location, and was named after Tucker. In 1989, Don Mansfield replaced the retiring Packard; he currently serves as the herbarium’s curator and botany professor.
As of spring 2012, the herbarium contains about 43,000 vascular plant specimens, mostly from southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon. Some, like Artemisia packardiae and Senecio ertterae, were discovered by and named for College of Idaho faculty and students.
Current Efforts and Services
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service frequently use the herbarium to document locations of rare or endangered plants, to help identify unknown species, and to locate specific plants. Nationally, the New York Botanical Garden and other research centers around the country use the herbarium to research flora catalogued from the Intermountain West and Pacific Northwest.
Ongoing research projects at The College of Idaho using the collection include the elucidation of phylogenetic relationships in the genera Lomatium and Cymopterus; the production of a flora of the Owyhee Uplift region; and the identification of new taxa in southwestern Idaho.
In 2011, the herbarium began work on a National Science Foundation-funded digitization initiative (SWITCH -- SouthWest Idaho: The Comprehensive Herbaria) in collaboration with Boise State University to capture images & label data for each specimen in the herbarium. These images and data are being made available at the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria website.
The herbarium is located on the first floor of Boone Science Hall. View a campus map and directions to campus online.