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Plant Biodiversity collage.
Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Gary A. Fewless Herbarium

An herbarium is a scientific collection of dried plant specimens called vouchers. The Fewless Herbarium houses a collection of more than 35,000 dried vascular plant vouchers, of which over 90% are from Wisconsin.Herbarium collections provide reliable records for the distribution of vascular plants and are the basis for most taxonomic publications regarding plants. Whenever you read a book that describes how to identify a plant, what kinds of places you might find it, where it is distributed in the world, and all the particulars of the plant's size, shape, colors, etc., the information has been taken in large part from herbarium vouchers.Herbaria are essential in the training of plant taxonomists, who learn to identify, name and classify plants.

Herbarium collections are an important part of the attempt to understand biodiversity, plant communities, and to conserve and protect endangered plants. Herbaria are the best source of information documenting the presence of any species within an area. The plant vouchers stored in herbaria have labels which describe where and when the plant was collected, and (if the collector has done a good job) information on the type of habitat, associated species and the size and health of the population from which the voucher was taken. From this information, gathered from all herbaria in the region, the researcher can get a good understanding of how the species is distributed and how common it is. This label information is also helpful in identifying what kind of habitat is necessary for the species.

A herbarium is also an essential resource for the training of botanists who will study natural ecosystems and native plants, including endangered species. They are also often important sources of the published literature relevant to endangered species. When rare species are similar in appearance to other, more common species, the information necessary to distinguish them is usually gleaned from the information associated with the vouchers.

Our vouchers are included in Wisflora, a fully searchable web site of Wisconsin's vascular plant species; including photos, habitat information, distribution maps, herbarium specimen data and more. Wisflora presents data to the public from the Wisconsin Botanical Information System.

Search Wisflora


Keys and Lists of Local Plant Species

Our online collection includes dichotomous keys to the trees and ferns of Wisconsin. The keys include detailed photographs to assist in identification of species. The collection also annotated plant lists and guides for several different categories of Wisconsin plants.


Herbarium Policies and Contacts

The UWGB Herbarium is used primarily for research and is not usually open to the public. However, the curators do conduct a number of tours for groups, such as college and K-12 classes, naturalists, teachers, Learning in Retirement, civic clubs etc. If you would like to arrange a tour of the museum for your class or group please contact Curator Jay Horn.

Researchers and faculty that would like to use the herbarium for research or are requesting specimens for study or to use in classes should contact CCB Director Bob Howe for more information.


About Gary A. Fewless

UW-Green Bay renamed the herbarium in recognition of Emeriti Curator Gary Fewless’s 33-year career and dedication to the herbarium, the plants and natural areas of Northeastern Wisconsin, and UW-Green Bay. As Herbarium curator and a lecturer in botany and ecology, he has mentored hundreds of students in his Field Botany, Plant Taxonomy and Wetland Ecology courses and he has built the herbarium collection into what is described as Northeastern Wisconsin’s most important botanical research center. Now housing more than 35,000 specimens (the majority collected by Fewless), UW-Green Bay’s herbarium on the first floor of MAC Hall is one of the most significant regional scientific collections in Wisconsin. Fewless, who holds bachelor’s (’78) and master’s (’86) degrees from UW-Green Bay, took a lead in posting resources and photographs online (such as “Trees of Wisconsin”). This led to frequent use by educators throughout the eastern United States, helping put the herbarium and UW-Green Bay “on the map” of North American botanical resources. Gary still continues to work in the herbarium as an ermitus curator, building the collection and continuing his research on endangered plants.

Gary Fewless