The Clinton Herbarium is named for George William Clinton (1807-1885), who was the son of DeWitt Clinton, the New York State governor who built the Erie Canal. Judge Clinton was mayor of the city of Buffalo for several terms, and became the first President of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.
Back in the days before television, when popular heroes were explorers trained in natural history like Alexander Humboldt and Louis Agassiz, people studied plants and animals for fun and edification. George Clinton in the 1860's was a judge on the New York Supreme Court, and he and his fellow attorneys and other professionals banded together to create the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. Clinton exchanged plant specimens with many other botanists around the world, and the Clinton Herbarium is now the 9th oldest institutional plant collection in the U.S.A. It olds more than 100,000 plant specimens, of which about half document the vegetation of the Niagara Frontier Region. The protection of the Clinton Herbarium from heat and humidity-induced deterioriation, insect infestation, casual inappropriate use, and general neglect is the function of a trained botanical curator or collections manager.
Because the kinds of plants found in our region are rapidly changing through destruction of habitat and introduction of aggressive weeds, study of the flora is more and more important. With such accelerating change comes opportunity for study. Even now, the Niagara Frontier is under attack by invasive species and its character and value is being changed forever.
The dried plant collections of the Clinton Herbarium provide a 150-year continuous long-range baseline of environmental sampling for evaluating changes in species and their ranges over time. The Herbarium is the main provider of information for future scientists who are working on solutions to the global crises (for example, global warming, ozone hole, population pressure, depletion of fisheries, loss of non-renewable resources, biodiversity loss, new diseases) as they are affecting the Niagara Frontier, its people and its industry.
Canada Lily (Lilium canadense)
The Clinton Herbarium - a description and history. This is a summary of development of this phenomenal cultural treasure of the people of western New York State.
MORE INFORMATION ON WESTERN NEW YORK BOTANY
For additional information compiled by P. M. Eckel, including a Checklist of Western New York Botany, the Flora and Vegetation of the Vicinity of Niagara Falls, Botanical History, the Clinton Archives, and other topics, visit the Res Botanica web site.
- Botany and Science
- Floristics of Niagara Frontier region (western NY and adjacent Ontario)
- Niagara Falls flora and Niagara environmental issues
- G.W. Clinton correspondence
HOW TO KNOW
- Some Poisonous Native and Cultivated Plants
- What makes those Bright Fall Leaf Colors?
- The Helleborine Orchid and the Museum
ESSAYS ON SCIENCE
- How is the Scientific Method used in Natural History Study?
- Promoting a Sense of Continuity
- What is Special about Natural History Museums?
- The Linnaean Endeavor, 250 year anniversary in 2003
- Long-Term Research on the Niagara Frontier
- The Difference Between Collections in an Art Museum and in a Natural History Museum