The most extensive research collection in Western Colorado

The Fort Lewis College Herbarium (Index Herbariorum Code: FLD) contains about 20,000 preserved specimens of plants and fungi and is the most extensive research collection in western Colorado. The Herbarium is a vital regional resource for researchers, land managers, students, and the public. 

Herbarium collections

The collection is focused on the Four Corners Region and currently contains specimens for 3400 individual taxa of plants and 790 taxa of fungi. The oldest specimens date to the late 1800s, with continued active collecting and exchange with other institutions adding between 300-500 specimens yearly.

The collection is curated according to modern specimen preparation and taxonomic arrangement standards. It is organized according to the arrangement of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group with families following the APG IV system.

Fort Lewis College Herbarium history

The founding of the Fort Lewis College Herbarium goes back to the school's earliest days in 1910, with specimens collected to support the strong focus on education in agriculture and forestry. Ernest H. Bader and Dr. Arthur D. Moinat were principal figures for the herbarium in its early days. Bader, who arrived at FLC in 1915, contributed 190 specimens collected at Mesa Verde National Park in the 1920s, some of the first scientific specimens to be gathered at the then-newly established park. Moinat contributed specimens from the original Hesperus campus and national forest lands throughout Southwest Colorado.

From 1955-1978 Dr. Herbert E. Owen oversaw the collection, personally contributing over 200 specimens, with many more contributed by his students. In 1978 Dr. David Jamieson arrived at FLC, focusing his work mainly on the bryoflora of western Colorado and including sedges, rushes, alpine flora, and other vascular plants in the 2000 specimens he contributed. Dr. Jamieson built a significant bryological collection that he transferred to the University of British Columbia upon retirement. Also arriving in 1978, Dr. Page Lindsay established FLC’s mycological collection as the area's only representation of fungal diversity.

The current curator Dr. Ross McCauley assumed stewardship of the herbarium in 2008 and has overseen significant growth since then. He moved the herbarium’s physical location to accommodate its expansion through the acquisition of several collections: The Peggy Lyon Western Colorado Flora Collection, the Susan Komarek Collection, and exchanges of materials with San Juan College, Northern Arizona University, and the Denver Botanic Gardens. He has also contributed more than 2000 specimens to the collection to collect lesser-studied locations. 

Database and digitization efforts

The herbarium is fully databased and digitized for access by researchers worldwide. Databasing began in 2008, with digitization starting in 2014 under the support of a National Science Foundation grant. Students have played a critical role in this process, involving all aspects of specimen preparation, database management, and high-resolution photography. All plant data is accessible via the Consortium of Southern Rocky Mountain Herbaria portal. Fungal data is accessible via the Mycology Collections data Portal.

Gentiana parryi from the San Juan Mountains

Regional Herbaria

Find digital photos of preserved plant specimens, see where specimens were collected, and more in this extensive database.

Clavaria purpurea from Weminuche Wilderness


Find out detailed information about mycological specimens from consortium collections of fungus, lichens, and more.

Yucca growing on campus

Campus Plant List

Find campus plant species in the Herbarium, or download a printable list of shrubs & trees you can see on campus.

Additional Herbarium resources

  • Campus tree and shrub guide
  • Student Research: Vascular flora of the Pine Gulch area of the Old Fort Lewis property in Hesperus, CO
  • Student Research: Assessment of Vascular Plant Biodiversity in the HD Mountains 
  • Faculty Research: The importance of small herbaria for documenting plant biodiversity in Colorado. 
  • Faculty Research: Using digitized herbarium data for authentic research experiences in undergraduate botany courses.


Contact the Herbarium director, Dr. Ross McCauley, with questions or to arrange a visit.

970-247-7338 | Email Dr. McCauley