The primary role of the UTM Herbarium is to facilitate biodiversity studies of vascular plants from the province of Ontario as well as northeast Canada and adjacent US. This herbarium maintains a permanent reference collection documenting the historical distribution and composition of the local flora. In addition, we provide a depository for plant specimens used in research, teaching, conservation, and community outreach. The purpose of these specimens is to serve as:
- Voucher documentation for various research projects
- Records for rare and endangered species in Ontario
- Resources for plant identification
- Examples in plant courses
The field of plant systematics was centered for centuries around exchange and study of herbarium collections and that pivotal role is still paramount today. Hence, the TRTE herbarium both receives and provides loans of plant specimens to be used in active systematic research. Our herbarium offers the rich body of information on precise locality, geography, ecology, and morphological variation contained in the existing specimens. In addition, DNA can be extracted from certain herbarium specimens, further expanding the research value of the collection. More and more researchers rely on use of herbarium material as a convenient source of DNA for molecular phylogenetic studies. Our herbarium is trying to accommodate this demand to the extent possible taking into account the availability and quality of particular material.
Furthermore, a herbarium has lots to offer in teaching traditional Botany courses such as plant systematics, morphology, identification, and floristics, and the TRTE herbarium is used extensively as a valuable resource for these purposes.
Finally, the general public’s interest in different aspects of biology in general, and especially plant biology, can be easier to capture through these more tangible ‘natural history’ venues, which then, if properly canalized, can result in a better understanding of scientific process as a whole and need for its adequate and continuous funding.