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Environmental Studies

The Lake Forest College Herbarium

At present, the Lake Forest College Herbarium is home to more than 3,700 plant specimens dating from the turn of the twentieth century, with some being collected, purportedly, as early as 1848. Between the years 1895 and 1897, M.C. Jensen, a student and botanist, collected more than 70 specimens within the city of Lake Forest, IL, and added these to the College’s collection.

This old practice of collecting now intersects with modern technologies, making our plants an invaluable resource to studying the historical flora of the region. One such example of ongoing research is conducted by botanist and former professor, Linda Curtis, who is using her own collections alongside those of the herbarium to understand the occurrence of many sedge species.

For the next thirty years of its history, the herbarium sat unused and forgotten until rediscovered by Dr. Elizabeth Teter Lunn, a Professor of Biology here at the College from 1929 to 1970. Throughout her unremitting and passionate teaching career, she assiduously presided over and put together a large portion of our current collection. Dr. Kenneth Weik, Professor of Biology Emeritus, worked with Elizabeth T. Lunn within the biological boundaries of the college. Together they contributed scores of herbaria specimens to this collection.

In order to maintain and fully utilize this collection digitization is necessary, and so far 3,481 specimens have been recorded using Google Spreadsheet—the same program used by Chicago Botanic Garden herbarium curators. Once digitization is completed, specimens will then be photographed individually and added to the Virtual Herbarium of America online index. The ongoing digitization of the LFC Herbarium will serve to educate and engage students, the research community, citizen scientists, and the public.


-Victoria Jones