The Emory Herbarium is home to more than 23,000 specimens and a unique set of special collections. Here, we provide a detailed look at the special characteristics of each collection.
Don E. Eyles Collection
The Eyles Collection consists of 2,905 vouchered specimens collected for his Masters thesis, completed at Emory in 1938. These specimens also serve to voucher his two publications of southeastern aquatic plants, which remain the primary resources for aquatic and maritime plant identification in the southeast(1, 2). Fourteen specimens from the Eyles Collection were incorporated into the USDA National Arboretum Herbarium as first records of the geographical range of taxa in Georgia. Duplicates of these specimens are on file at GEO. Dr. Eyles extended his taxonomic work throughout his career, which specialized on aquatic host plants of mosquito species. Several taxa denoted as preferred mosquito host plants are vouchered at GEO(3).
Robert F. Thorne Collection
The Thorne Collection comprises 4,582 vouchered specimens collected for Dr. Thorne’s Doctoral dissertation from Cornell University, Flora of Southwestern Georgia(4). This collection encompasses voucher specimens from four of the five World Wildlife Fund ecoregions currently recognized in Georgia. This collection has strong potential for use in a comparative study of shifting ecoregions in response to climactic changes in the region.
Southern Appalachian Botanical Club (SABC) Collection
The SABC collection was amassed as part of GEO’s largest specimen exchange to date. Over the course of twelve years, 806 specimens originating from the Appalachian mountains of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and southwestern Virginia were received by GEO from WVU. These specimens are an important representation of Appalachian ecosystems and are of great value for teaching regional ecology. Some of these specimens were used during a training session held in 2014 for local elementary STEM educators to help illustrate how Atlanta sits at the junction of Appalachian, Piedmont, and Coastal ecosystems.
Madeline L. Burbanck Collection in Granite Outcrop Collection
The collection of granite outcrop species comprises 383 specimens collected by Dr. Madeline Burbanck, former GEO Collections Manager, during the course of her professional and personal research efforts to document the flora of the rare granite rock outcropping ecosystem(5). This collection includes species denoted as rare or endangered by the United States National Forest Service. The Burbanck Collection 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(6-8). Additionally, Dr. Burbanck’s collection of specimens was critical to her efforts to designate Mount Arabia, Georgia a protected National Heritage Park.
Medical Botany Collection
This collection consists of 822 specimens belonging to two primary categories: those belonging to the “Medicinal Plants of the American Civil War” Collection (191 specimens) and those deposited by several Emory University researchers during the course of their various field expeditions studying the medicinal plants used by traditional cultures (631 specimens). A particular focus is placed on Arberëshë ethnobotany(9-11), south Italian collections(12, 13), and useful species of the Balkans(14-16). Of note, the data on Arberëshë plants is unique in that it represents data from an endangered linguistic group, of which less than 10,000 speakers survive today(17). This collection is rich in associated data, including scientific taxonomy, folk taxonomy, native ranges of plants, cultivation and management techniques, part of plant used, and often associated laboratory data such as gene sequences and phytochemical data. This collection also includes numerous direct artifacts of plants, such as wood samples, resins, fibers, toxic plants, fungi, spices, carvings, traditional medicinal tinctures and mineral-plant compounds, and processed crop plants. The Medical Botany Collection is currently used in the Emory University undergraduate courses HLTH 385: Food, Health and Society and HLTH 485/ BIOL 485: Botanical Medicine and Health. This collection is also of active interest to several international researchers, including researchers from the University of Prishtina (Prishtina, Kosovo) and University of Basilicata (Potenza, Italy).
1. Eyles, D. E. (1963) A Guide and Key to the Aquatic Plants of the Southeastern United States, Public Health Bulletin 286, 1-151.
2. Eyles, D. E., and Robertson, J. L. (1944) A Guide and Key to the Aquatic Plants of the S.E. United States, United States Public Health Service, Washington, D.C.
3. Eyles, D. E. (1941) A photosociological study of the Castalia-Myriophyllum community of Georgia coastal plain boggy Ponds, American Midland Naturalist 26, 421-438.
4. Thorne, R. F. (1949) The Flora of Southwestern Georgia, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
5. Burbanck, M. P., and Platt, R. B. (1964) Granite Outcrop Communities of the Piedmont Plateau in Georgia, Ecology 45, 292-306.
6. Murdy, W. H. (1968) Plant speciation associated with granite outcrop communities of the southeastern Piedmont, Rhodora 70, 394-407.
7. Shure, D. J., and Ragsdale, H. L. (1977) Patterns of Primary Succession on Granite Outcrop Surfaces, Ecology 58, 993 – 1006.
8. Burbanck, M. P., and Phillips, D. L. (1983) Evidence of Plant Succession on Granite Outcrops of the Georgia Piedmont, American Midland Naturalist 109, 94-104.
9. Pieroni, A., Nebel, S., Quave, C., Munz, H., and Heinrich, M. (2002) Ethnopharmacology of liakra: traditional weedy vegetables of the Arbereshe of the Vulture area in southern Italy, Journal of ethnopharmacology 81, 165 – 185.
10. Pieroni, A., and Quave, C. (2006) Functional foods or food medicines? On the consumption of wild plants among Albanians and southern Italians in Lucania, Eating and Healing Traditional Food as Medicine, 101 – 129.
11. Quave, C., and Pieroni, A. (2005) Folk illness and healing in Arbereshe Albanian and Italian communities of Lucania, southern Italy, Journal of Folklore Research 42, 57 – 97.
12. Pieroni, A., Quave, C., and Santoro, R. (2004) Folk pharmaceutical knowledge in the territory of the Dolomiti Lucane, inland southern Italy, Journal of ethnopharmacology 95, 373 – 384.
13. Pieroni, A., Quave, C., Villanelli, M., Mangino, P., Sabbatini, G., Santini, L., Boccetti, T., Profili, M., Ciccioli, T., Rampa, L., Antonimi, G., Girolamini, C., Cecchi, M., and Tomasi, M. (2004) Ethnopharmacognistic survey on the natural ingredients used in folk cosmetics, cosmeceuticals and remedies for healing skin diseases in the inland Marches, Central-Eastern Italy, Journal of ethnopharmacology 91, 331 – 344.
14. Mustafa, B., Hajdari, A., Krasniqi, F., Hoxha, E., Ademi, H., Quave, C. L., and Pieroni, A. (2012) Medical ethnobotany of the Albanian Alps in Kosovo, Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine 8, 6.
15. Mustafa, B., Hajdari, A., Pajazita, Q., Syla, B., Quave, C. L., and Pieroni, A. (2011) An ethnobotanical survey of the Gollak region, Kosovo, Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution.
16. Quave, C. L., and Pieroni, A. (2014) Fermented foods for food sovereignty and food security in the Balkans: A case study of the Gorani people of northeastern Albania, Journal of Ethnobiology 34, 28-43.
17. Moseley, C. (2010) Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 3rd ed., UNESCO Publishing, http://www.unesco.org/culture/en/endangeredlanguages/atlas.