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


The Mission

The University of Tennessee Herbarium (UCHT) will strive to support basic and applied research in the plant sciences, particularly systematics and taxonomy, environmental science, plant geography, and studies of species of special concern. It will continue to grow as an important botanical resource for southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia, the University, and broader scientific community.

The Collection

Prof. E McGilliard                                                  Dr. Van Horn

Prof. McGilliard                                                     Dr. Van Horn


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 above-mentioned 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 Tennessee.

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.