University of Minnesota Duluth – Herbarium 12.4.21


Olga Lakela Herbarium Tour and Workshop

Presented By: Gretchen Meier

On Saturday December 4 the University of Minnesota Duluth Herbarium hosted the Arrowhead Native Plant Explorers for a tour of the facility and a workshop to prepare actual specimens for the herbarium. An herbarium is a research museum for plants. UMD’s herbarium is named for its founder, Olga Lakela, the first head of the Biology Department, who published a definitive reference manual for the flora of northeastern Minnesota in 1965. UMD was originally established for the education of teachers in 1895 on land ceded by the Ojibwe in the Treaty of 1854, in which the tribe retained extensive land use rights.

Gretchen showed members the rows of steel cabinets containing stacks of pressed plants arranged by family, genus, and species. Each plant specimen has a label indicating who collected it, when, and where. They are part of a worldwide network of specimens that botanists use for a variety of studies, including genetic analysis. The UMD collection information is accessible online through the University of Minnesota’s Biodiversity Atlas. The herbarium is in the process of digitizing or adding photos of every specimen to the online database.

After the tour we gathered at the Bagley Nature Area Outdoor Recreation Classroom, where the director of the herbarium, Dr. Amanda Grusz, joined us. While enjoying treats from Positively Third Street Bakery, Gretchen and Amanda distributed the materials for mounting plant specimens to 12 participants. We each took a couple plants, previously flattened in a press, from a stack collected from the grounds of Glensheen Mansion. Handling them with forceps, we carefully glued them to thick, acid-free paper. Hundreds of years from now there will be a record of what plants were growing in urban Duluth in the early 21st century.

For additional information about UMD visit:

UMD Land Acknowledgment:

For further information about the Olga Lakela Herbarium visit:

Olga Lakela Herbarium website:

bio of Olga Lakela:

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas:

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