|through Williamsburg and
Northampton, fills Paradise Pond and terminates in the old oxbow of
the Connecticut near Mount Tom. Early in this work, every species of
vascular plant growing in or along the river and its floodplain was
collected. The specimens taken were tentatively identified by the use
of guides and manuals (or by the field experience of their
collectors) and then for a final verification compared with labeled
specimens from the permanent collection. The newly collected
specimens, themselves now incorporated in the Smith Herbarium, serve
as vouchers to document continuing studies of the ecology of marsh
vegetation in the Mill River and other streams.
The Smith collections also serve as an aid in teaching several courses. Mr. David Haskell uses pressed clubmosses, horsetails, ferns, and other plants to supplement both living and preserved materials studied in his classes in morphology and anatomy. I use specimens or photographs of specimens to illustrate phenomena of importance in understanding the process of variation and evolution in plant groups. Several mounted sheets of hybrid goldenrods, collected by Harold Hinds (M.A. '66) in his thesis study of the flora of Outer Cape Cod, are useful when compared with parental types already present in the collections for demonstrating ecological isolating mechanisms and the consequences of their breakdown; a series of oak hybrids and their extraordinary progeny demonstrates why, since the time of Theophrastus¹, the oak genus Quercus has been a source of controversy and confusion to those who would define its several species.
When a plant new to science is discovered and described, an actual specimen on which the description is based is designated as the "type" of the new species and deposited in a herbarium. Certain herbaria, the Herbarium of Linnaeus in London, for example, contain large numbers of type specimens; the Smith Herbarium contains none of these. It does, however, serve as a historical collection, an archive to document various research projects conducted at the College, preserving the materials upon which published investigations have been based. A recent scientific study based in part on Smith College Herbarium specimens was the doctoral work of Nancy (Nickerson) Shontz (A.B. '64, PH.D. '69). Mrs. Shontz studied evolution in the Frenchweed, Galinsoga ciliata (Figure 3). Galinsoga ciliata, also known as Argentine daisy or devilweed, has had a somewhat odd distributional history. Collected for the first time in America from the Bartram Garden in Philadelphia, Frenchweed was described as a new genus and species of plant. Now believed to be of tropical origin, Galinsoga was
1. Any veteran of an introductory botany course will recall that Theophrastus was the "Father of Botany" and a student of Aristotle.