The TRTE Herbarium is administered and overseen by the Department of Biology at the University of Toronto at Mississauga. Our herbarium, founded in 1969, houses about 95,000 specimens of vascular plants, including the extensive collections of Paul F. Maycock and Peter W. Ball. Geographically, the herbarium’s main focus is on vascular plant specimens from Ontario, but important collections are also available from Québec and the Canadian high Arctic. Small quantities of specimens are available from all other regions of Canada, United States, Western Australia, New Zealand, and West Africa (Nigeria, Sierra Leone). Taxonomically, our herbarium is particularly strong in its representation of sedges (genus Carex), mainly from eastern Canada and, to a lesser extent, from elsewhere in Canada and the United States.
Visitors seeking to use these important research collections of the herbarium for monographic, floristic, or other plant taxonomic research are welcome. However, the Herbarium is open by appointment only, so please contact us before coming to visit TRTE. Loans of specimens are available through registered herbaria upon request.
Correspondence should be addressed to:
Curator of the Herbarium, TRTE
Department of Biology
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road
The herbarium is housed in room 1092D of the Davis Building. A map of the campus is available via the link below. There are two options for parking. The most convenient short-term parking is available at the lot 4 next to the Davis Building. A free visitor's parking permit may be obtained through the Biology Department at the request of the curator. To do this the curator must have advanced warning of your visit, at least one week, to process the paperwork. Visits of a long duration (>1 week) may require the purchase of a parking permit.
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.
The TRTE herbarium was founded in 1969 when emeritus Professor Alan F. Coventry donated his collection of about 4500 specimens to the college. On his retirement from the University of Toronto, Zoology Department, in about 1955, Professor Coventry came to live in a house in the countryside close to Creditview Road north of Hwy 401. Plans to develop the city of Mississauga were beginning to unfold, so he decided to collect plants in the Credit River Valley area with a goal to putting on record the flora of the area before it was destroyed by construction. He received encouragement to do this from the Credit Valley Conservation Authority and consequently collected from many of the areas which came under their jurisdiction during the 1950’s and later. The technical staff of Erindale College, particularly David Bezdek, as well as many students and faculty added to this collection in following years. Extensive collections of material were incorporated from Environmentally Sensitive Area studies in Halton and Peel regions during the 1970’s and 1980’s as well. Substantial collections of material from Leeds Co., Norfolk Co., and Essex Co. are also included in the TRTE herbarium.
The TRTE plant collections assist faculty and students of the University of Toronto with their research projects and teaching needs. The research projects include phylogenetic analysis of plant taxa, ecological studies of habitats and plant communities, comparative floristic work in Ontario, and plant taxonomic studies, including significant contributions to the Flora of North America (FNA) project. Faculty that have ongoing botanical research at TRTE include Peter Ball, Paul Maycock, Sasa Stefanovic, and Peter Kotanen, among others. The herbarium is also available for use by investigators from other universities, individuals from government agencies and environmental consulting firms, as well as the general public. Also, plant specimens are actively collected for teaching used in various undergraduate and graduate courses, including Plant identification and systematics (BIO339), Plant Ecology (BIO330), Changing Ontario Environment (BIO317), Arctic Ecology (BIO302), and the Field Course in Ecology (BIO316). In addition, duplicates are frequently obtained from and sent to NHIC, CAN, DAO, and MICH herbaria.
The TRTE herbarium houses permanently over 95,000 pressed and mounted herbarium specimens of vascular plants in 69 full-sized metal herbarium cabinets. An additional 11 full-sized cabinets are earmarked for actively used research specimens, loans from other institutions, stored vouchers, and our growing teaching collection. Also, the Herbarium contains taxonomic reference books, floras from across North America and many other regions of the world, topographic maps, and two workstations with boom-dissecting microscopes. An additional room (SE-1004B) houses a plant drier, a freezer (for regularly freezing specimens to control insects), and materials for mounting plant specimens onto herbarium sheets.
Resources Available For Download
Paul F. Maycock Collection:
This collection of over 30,000 specimens is housed at TRTE. During the course of his research in plant communities in Ontario, Québec, temperate Europe, and eastern Asia, Professor Maycock and his students and research colleagues made extensive collections of specimens to serve as vouchers for their ecological data. His research focused on forest communities throughout Ontario but he also visited remote regions of Northern Ontario studying subarctic communities.
Josef Svoboda Collection:
Professor Svoboda and his students undertook ecological research in the Canadian arctic, particularly Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. Considerable numbers of specimens were collected during the course of this research and those are incorporated in TRTE.
Herbarium loans are made only to other internationally registered herbaria (see Index Herbariorum for a list of recognized institutions). The specimen loans are for phylogenetic, taxonomic, and ecological research projects of vascular plants only and cannot be used for any commercial purpose. These loans are made generally for a period of one year. If further time is required, an extension should be requested. As far as possible, all loaned specimens should be annotated. While on loan, our specimens must be stored in metal cabinets and in a way that will ensure their protection from insects, humidity, and other damage. They must be handled with great care and not bent, cut, folded, or laid face downwards. If small portions have become detached, please place the loose material in attached paper packets. If more serious damage has occurred please inform us immediately. Material for palynological, anatomical, and molecular studies must not be dissected or removed from any herbarium specimen without prior written approval from a curator. We would appreciate receiving any publications resulting from studies based on TRTE collections.
Please contact us through mail or email and we will provide you with all additional information and forms necessary. Requests for specimen loans should be made by mail or email and directed to one of the curators. These requests should be made directly by the curator/manager of the receiving herbarium.
The Friends of the TRTE Herbarium support the mission of the herbarium to serve both the scientific community and the public. The friends can help enhance the research and educational opportunities at TRTE through gracious donation of time (volunteer program) and/or funds (herbarium donations).
We are actively searching for people with time and enthusiasm who are interested in getting involved in volunteering. This is a great experience for all those looking for something to do or looking to gain experience in computers or the life sciences. No botanical/technical experience is necessary and there is no minimum time involvement. Some sample projects we are working on include specimen preparation/curation, typing and databasing, sorting of specimens and filing, and developing digital imaging and web pages.
Due to less and less funding from government and other traditional sources for botany, we are soliciting donations to defray the operating costs of the herbarium. Although we get a small sum of money from the University, it does not cover the total operating costs. Any donation to the herbarium would be a substantial contribution to us and would be used solely for herbarium operating costs. Because we must use only archival/museum quality supplies for our specimens, the costs can get rather high. Some examples of our expenditures include acid-free mounting paper, folders, fragment packets, and label paper, pH-neutral glue and gummed tape, fade-proof ink pens, insect-proof storage cases and pest management supplies, library books, etc. We have set up a “Friends of the Herbarium” donations fund, administered by the Department of Biology at the UTM. If you are interested in contributing, please contact one of the curators.
Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) – Toronto
Royal Botanical Garden (HAM) – Hamilton
Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC) – Peterborough
Canadian Museum of Nature (CAN) – Ottawa, ON
Herbarium, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (DAO) – Ottawa, ON
Herbarium, University of British Columbia – Vancouver, BC
Herbarium, University of Alberta (ALTA) – Edmonton, AL
Herbarium, University of Saskatchewan (SASK) – Saskatoon, SK
University of Manitoba (WIN) – Winnipeg, MB
Herbarium, Acadia University (ACAD) – Wolfville, NS
New York Botanical Garden (NY) – Bronx, NY, USA
Herbarium, Missouri Botanical Garden (MO) – St. Louis, MO, USA
Harvard University Herbaria (GH, A) – Cambridge, MA, USA
University of Michigan Herbarium (MICH) – Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Field Museum, (F) – Chicago, IL, USA
Smithsonian Institution (US) – Washington, DC, USA
Royal Botanical Garden (K) – Kew, UK
Natural History Museum (BM) – London, UK
Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle (P) – Paris, France
Komarov Botanical Institute (LE) – St. Petersburg, Russia
Other Botanical Resources:
Canadian Botanical Association
Field Botanists of Ontario
American Society of Plant Taxonomists
Botanical Society of America
International Association for Plant Taxonomy
Mycological Society of America
Peter W. Ball, Curator and Professor Emeritus
Sasa Stefanovic, Head Curator (phanerogams)
Linda M. Kohn, Curator (cryptogams)
Department of Biology
University of Toronto Mississauga
3359 Mississauga Road