Greene-Nieuwland Herbarium

Greene Herbarium Type CollectionGreene Herbarium Type Collection

The Notre Dame Herbarium is a teaching and research collection of 280,000 preserved plants collected from the early 1800s to the present. It is used for study in areas of botany, ecology, evolution, biodiversity and conservation, and global environmental change, to name a few.

The Notre Dame Herbarium, comprised of two separate collections, was founded in 1904 by Father Julius A. Nieuwland, C.S.C. The Nieuwland Herbarium (ND) has grown into a 213,000-specimen herbarium with specimens from around the world. The Nieuwland Herbarium continues to acquire specimens that document current research activities. The Edward Lee Greene Herbarium (NDG) was acquired in 1914 by Father Nieuwland from his mentor (Edward Lee Greene) during his graduate school days at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The Greene Herbarium contains 67,400 specimens. Greene studied North American botany, especially western plants, from the 1860s until his death in 1915. He was the first professor of botany at the University of California. He described and named more than 4,000 plant species new to science. The actual plant specimens, called type specimens, that he used to describe these new species reside in the Greene Herbarium at Notre Dame, making it a collection of historical and scientific significance. The Greene Herbarium also contains many type specimens from Europe and the Americas acquired by exchange with other botanists of Greene's time.

The Edward Lee Greene Herbarium Type Collection contains 8,900 specimens that were used for the description of plant species and infrspecies new to science. This collection is the third largest Type collection in North America held by an academic institution (the only larger collections are held by Harvard University and the University of Michigan). Type specimens are designated to serve as the reference point when a plant species is first named and described. As a result these specimens are extremely important to botanists who attempt to determine the correct application of botanical names. 

Recent activities:

  • Participant in Global Plants Project. Global Plants is the world's largest database of digitized plant specimens and a locus for international scientific research and collaboration, with more than 300 herbaria and museums from 80 countries participating. The Museum of Biodiversity's participation in this project has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • Collaborator in ongoing efforts that use natural history museum specimens to document the introduction and spread of exotic species through the Great Lakes Region. Notre Dame's Museum of Biodiversity and Greene-Nieuwland Herbarium are part of a network of herbaria and zoology museums from more than 20 universities within the Great Lakes states and provinces of Canada that are documenting the occurrence of these species and tracking their introduction and spread by providing online access to individual specimen collection data and images for these organisms from their museums. The Great Lakes Invasives Project is supported by the National Science Foundation.
  • Survey of the Notre Dame campus flora. Sponsored by Notre Dame Campus Services, the Museum of Biodiversity has begun a project to document the Notre Dame campus flora. The flora was first formally documented by Fr. Peter Hebert, C.S.C., in 1966 and more recently in 1992 by Barbara Hellenthal for the book "Trees, Shrubs and Vines on the University of Notre Dame Campus" published by the University of Notre Dame Press for the University's sesquicentennial celebration. The new survey will serve as the basis for an updated book on the campus flora and will provide a foundation for management of the campus landscape. The University's departments of Maintenance and Landscape Services are active participants in this project.