Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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Department ofBotany


About the Research

The Smithsonian Institution has a long history of monographic and floristic work on the plant family Gesneriaceae, one of the largest families of the Lamiales as now circumscribed. Conrad V. Morton worked on the family from the 1930s until his death in 1972. Shortly after Morton’s death, Dr. Laurence E. (Larry) Skog was hired to continue research on Gesneriaceae in the Smithsonian’s Department of Botany, and continues to work on the group since retiring in 2003. In large part due to the work of these two scientists, the United States National Herbarium (US) has grown to have one of the largest and richest collections of Gesneriaceae in the world, with approximately 28,000 specimens and including about 1,000 types.

Although the emphasis of the collection is on New World material it includes many specimens from the Old World, with particularly significant holdings of Chinese, Philippine, and Pacific Island material. The department also maintains a small living collection of approximately 300 accessions in its research greenhouses in Suitland, Maryland. Collaborative ongoing projects include an online update of Gesneriaceae for the Biologia Centrali Americana and an examination of the phylogeny, morphology, and biogeography of tribe Gloxinieae in collaboration with Eric Roalson, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington.

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