Help us save our rare plant collection
Your immediate help is needed at the Emory University Herbarium, which is home to a very rare collection of granite rock outcrop specimens requiring repair and conservation. At the completion of this project, all specimens will be made accessible for research and education through a digital web portal, featuring high-resolution images and collection data for each species. Moreover, visitors to the Emory University Herbarium will have the opportunity to view these unique plants.
What is the Emory University Herbarium?
A herbarium is a museum of preserved plant samples that are used for botanical research and education. Herbarium specimens may include pressed and mounted plants, plant parts (seeds, wood sections, and pollen), microscope slides, plant DNA, and objects made from plants. The Emory University Herbarium was founded in 1949 and currently stores more than 20,800 plant specimens. Some of the oldest herbaria in the world have specimens collected 500 years ago. With the proper care, our specimens could last as long, or even longer, to benefit future generations of students and scientists.
The mission of the Emory University Herbarium is to serve as a botanical research and educational resource for the Emory University community and beyond. The herbarium fosters understanding of the human-nature interface by collecting, preserving, researching, and exhibiting botanical specimens and ethnobotanical objects.
What is a granite rock outcrop?
Granite outcrops are exposed granitic rocks found in the Piedmont and Appalachian Mountain regions. They formed around 300 million years ago during the Paleozoic Era. Atlanta’s iconic Stone Mountain is the world’s largest mass of exposed granite. Ecological conditions on granite outcrops are harsh and differ sharply from conditions in the adjacent forest. A remarkably large number of endemic species are found in this dynamic environment, which would seem to reflect their adaptation to their isolation over a long evolutionary time period.
The Emory collection of granite outcrop species comprises specimens collected by Dr. Madeline Burbanck during the course of her professional and personal research efforts to document the flora of the rare granite rock outcropping ecosystem and, more recently, by Emory undergraduate researchers. This collection includes species denoted as rare or endangered by the United States National Forest Service. It has special research and educational value for projects relating to ecological succession, as granite outcrops are an ideal model for studying plant succession and gradient-based speciation. In addition, this collection was critical to efforts to designate Mount Arabia, Georgia, a protected National Heritage Park.
Why Your Support Matters
The collection’s status is currently in a poor state. We estimate that more than three quarters of the specimens in this collection require extensive curatorial work (repair, databasing, mounting, and imaging). Efforts to restore the collection to a state amenable to long-term conservation are dependent upon your support. Your donation will have an immediate and long-lasting effect on these environmental treasures, helping preserve them for research and education for the next several hundred years.