The Herbarium of
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga - UCHT
Joey Shaw, Ph.D.
Molecular systematics; floristics; exotic invasive plant species
J. Hill Craddock, D.R.
Chestnut Breeding; chestnut blight; Mycology
To support basic and applied research in the plant sciences, particularly taxonomy,
environmental science, geography, and ecology. Arrangements can be made for other
scientists to use the collection by contacting the Curators.
To support instruction in the plant and fungal sciences especially in plant taxonomy,
biogeography, plant morphology, and mycology.
To support UTC’s outreach mandate for public education, particularly for the identification
of plants and to answer queries about the state's native and introduced plant life.
The Curators are happy to identify specimens sent in to us. It is always desirable
to include plant material with some reproductive structures; sending them in a plastic
container (like a kitchen baggy) will help keep the tissues reasonably life-like;
pressing dry between newspaper is also acceptable.
The collection of plants at UCHT is comprised of approximately 15,000 vascular plant
specimens primarily from southeastern Tennessee or the Chattanooga region. The earliest
primary contributor to the collection was Professor Eleanor McGilliard (1902-1965)
who was the first curator of the collection from 1927-1965. Most of Professor McGilliard’s
specimens were from the Chattanooga area and were collected in association with Ms.
Margaret Smith. The second curator of UCHT was Dr. Gene Van Horn who contributed
to the collection during his tenure at UTC from (1971-2005). When Dr. van Horn
arrived at UTC the collection consisted of 3 herbarium cabinets and had been neglected
for nearly 6 years. Many of Dr. Van Horn’s collected specimens have come from the
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (Fort Oglethorpe, GA), Chilhowee-Bean
Mountain (Polk Co., TN), and the Chattanooga area. John Beck, Dr. Van Horn’s graduate
student, studied the flora of Prentice Cooper State Forest and Wildlife management
area. During that study, Mr. Beck not only collected plants from his study area but
he also collected prolifically from the greater Chattanooga area. At the time of Dr.
Van Horn’s retirement the herbarium had tripled in size. Dr. Joey Shaw took over
as the third curator of the collection in 2005 and, with the generous donation of
3 herbarium cabinets from B.E. Wofford at UTK, the herbarium collection is now spread
among 12 cabinets. Mr. Stacy Huskins, Dr. Shaw' graduate student, is working on a
flora of the North Chickamauga Creek Gorge (Hamilton Co., TN). In addition to the
abovementioned primary collectors, many specimens deposited in the herbarium are the
result of unique collections made by students of the Plant Taxonomy class. Although
a relatively small herbarium, UCHT is an important regional collection for southeast
In addition to the vascular plant collection, UCHT also houses a fungal collection
of about 2000 specimens. The fungal collection was begun by J.H. Craddock in 1997.
Many of the specimens in the fungal collection were made by Mycology class students
or Departmental Honors students. Accessions include material from two surveys and
one Mycoblitz of the Lula Lake Land Trust (Lookout Mountain) and the Tennessee River
Gorge Trust (Tennessee River Gorge and the Cumberland Plateau). This collection has
recently reached sufficient mass to begin the transition toward a research collection.
Bringing the Herbarium into the 21st Century
The UCHT collection has been used by curators and students for over 80 years for both
instruction and research in plant taxonomy. All of the information inherent in every
specimen in the collection is currently being databased to increase access and expand
the research potential of the collection. The databasing work follows current Darwin
Core standardization methods for natural history museum collections. The Darwin Core
standard is an agreed upon method of digitizing museum specimens to allow for a greater
ease of sharing information on specimens and their geographic occurrences. The future
goal of linking to the ongoing efforts in other herbaria in the southeast will be
accomplished through collaboration with the Southeastern Regional Network of Expertise
and Collections (SERNEC) and the Society of Herbarium Curators (SHC). In addition
to databasing efforts, work is being performed to allow real-time, multiple query
searches of the UCHT collection through the web. This searchable web portal will
produce query results containing specimen information as well as county-level distribution
maps via GIS.