SCIENCES

Herbarium: The Quest To Preserve and Classify the World’s Plants

Timber. Nov. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781604699302. $40. GARDENING
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Thiers began her career as a one-year postdoctoral fellowship recipient at the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium at the New York Botanical Garden, ultimately becoming its director. Here the author examines the nearly six centuries that herbaria have been documenting the world’s plants and fungi. She begins with European and U.S. plant-collecting expeditions, sharing information about key explorers/scientists and their travels, and the specimens they discovered and prepared, followed by later developments in herbaria in these parts of the world. Thiers chooses four additional countries to profile: Australia, Brazil, China, and South Africa, covering early exploration, founding botanists, and modern herbaria for each. She shares information about the importance of digitization and sharing of collections as well as the current uses of herbaria from DNA studies to predicting changes to biodiversity, and the importance and future of herbaria. The author concludes with a selected list of herbaria located around the world.
VERDICT With lavish illustrations of places and people; portraits of key players; herbaria specimens; and beautiful, full-color artists’ renderings, this carefully researched, detailed homage to herbaria will appeal to those deeply interested in plant exploration and botany.

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