Friday, July 6, 2007

Jepson Herbarium

My trip to the Jepson Herbarium at UC Berkeley on Monday was pretty cool, even though I didn't find exactly what I was hoping to find. But I got to go behind the scenes and look through Lawrence Heckard's files, including his field collection notebooks. They were really interesting to read because they are basically a chronicle of every single plant collection trip he went on from the early 40's to the early 90's. I could see how his writing style changed, his shorthand developed, and how different people came in and out of his life, simply from reading those little old notebooks.

So I spent the day taking notes, and searching through the herbarium vouchers trying to piece together exactly how he and Tsan Iang Chuang germinated Cordylanthus palmatus back in the 60s and 70s. Through some clever sleuthing I figured out one or two things that might help me, but it remains to be seen whether I can do anything with the information. In general, it was pretty cool to be back there, using the herbarium like a regular old scientist.

Funny note: The herbarium is in the huge Valley Life Sciences building, across the atrium from the Museum of Paleontology. I was told that it was across from the T-Rex, which was true and kind of bizarre.

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