Ramsey-Freer Herbarium

The Ramsey-Freer Herbarium (LYN, as designated by Index Herbariorum) is housed in the A. Boyd Claytor III Education and Research Center at Lynchburg College's Claytor Nature Study Center.

The Herbarium's collection of dried, pressed plants are mounted on special paper, and cataloged by families. The specimens are housed in special metal cabinets and kept insect free.

The Herbarium stores a vast amount of botanical data relating to the flora of Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the George Washington National Forest, the Jefferson National Forest, the James River Face Wilderness, the Thunder Ridge Wilderness, the James River Gorge Watersheds, the Peaks of Otter, the Falling River, Percival's Island, and the Claytor Nature Study Center; as well as rare, threatened, and endangered species. The specimens are used both for teaching and research.

Thousands of these specimens are irreplaceable and are the voucher specimens for county and state records and also serve as the basis for many publications. The Ramsey-Freer Herbarium is the major repository for the Blue Ridge Parkway (National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior) with over 4500 sheets.

What is an Herbarium?

An Herbarium is a collection of dried plants. It is also resource for the study of systematic botany and related fields, and serves as a reference center, a documentation facility and data storehouse.

It is a botanical library, museum, history collection, and natural history resource. It represents a source of primary information about explorations and observations and also documents past inquiry into the nature and relationships of plants.

Interesting Facts About the Ramsey-Freer Herbarium

  • Was established in 1927
  • Has had only 3 curators in its history
  • Possesses almost 60,000 mounted specimens
  • Is the longest running research effort at Lynchburg College
  • Is the 2nd largest plant collection in Virginia
  • Is the largest private college herbarium in Virginia
  • Is the major repository for plants collected along the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Houses some mounted specimens collected over 110 years ago
  • Houses many voucher specimens of taxa found for the first time in many counties and the state of Virginia
  • Boasts a superb botanical library contributed by four botanists: Dr. Gwynn W. Ramsey, Dr. Ruskin S. Freer, Dr. Elizabeth Sprague, and Dr. Alton M. Harvill

Student Contributions to the Herbarium

Students have contributed significantly - through class projects or research - to the growth of the herbarium for more than 50 years. Many graduates have contributed important collections to the herbarium from the regions where they take up residence.

Biology or environmental science majors may work part time in the Herbarium as laboratory assistants, word processing labels, mounting, filing, and performing routine maintenance. In this way, students learn museum techniques and management.

Herbarium Library

The Herbarium Library is composed of approximately 500 volumes of manuals, floras, keys which aid in identification, nomenclature and classification. In addition, there are numerous botanical journals, soil and topographic maps, monographs and revisions.

Herbarium Use

The specimens are used for research and identification by scientists, students, gardeners, amateur botanists, businesses, museums, botanical gardens, and governmental agencies.

Current Research Emphasis

Specimen sheet from the herbarium
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), a source of Cimicifugin, used as a medicinal for hundreds of years

The Vascular Flora of The Peaks of Otter, the Vascular Flora of the Falling River in Campbell County, the Vascular Flora of Percival's Island, the flora of the Claytor Nature Study Center, the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family) of Virginia, Systematic Treatment of the North America Cimicifuga.

Publications Resulting from Field and Herbarium Research

Professor Freer produced approximately ten Journal Articles in Claytonia and Castanea. Dr. Ramsey has published approximately 25 Journal Articles in Castanea, Sida, and the Virginia Journal of Science, and has co-authored the book, Atlas of Virginia Flora. Dr. Ramsey has published with 4 former students.

Recognition in other References

The Ramsey-Freer Herbarium (LYN) is listed in "Index Herbariorum, an index to the herbaria of the world, and also in "Herbarium Resources for the United States." Recently, we have been listed with "The National Institutes of Health," because many of our plant specimens are recognized as drug, medicinal, or pharmaceutical plants. 

Funding

Funding from the Lynch's Ferry Authority was received for the study of the Flora of Percival's island. The curator has held contracts with WESTVACO Corporation, the U.S. Forest Service, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Virginia Nature Conservancy.

Herbarium Goals

  • To serve as a teaching tool through research at Lynchburg College
  • To discover information about the plants and vegetation of Virginia
  • To serve as a state and regional resource for cooperative plant research
  • To monitor rare, threatened, and endangered plant populations
  • To identify plants for the general public

Herbarium Specimens for Loan to Research Institutions

Loans are made upon request to any reputable educational institution. Researchers are also invited to visit and utilize the Ramsey-Freer Herbarium in Lynchburg.

Contact

For more information, contact Dr. Nancy Cowden, curator