The mission of the Pacific Northwest Herbarium (WWB) at Western Washington University is to archive and make accessible correctly identified botanical specimens, with an emphasis on those inhabiting the Pacific Northwest. Because a large part of our aim is to share this repository of botanical information, we have an open door policy with scientists, students, and the greater community. As such, the herbarium is an excellent resource for anyone interested in botany and mycology of the Pacific Northwest. Our entire vascular plant collection is now available online through the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria.
While the main focus of WWB is vascular plants (~23,000 specimens) of the Pacific Northwest, the collection also includes non-vascular plants (~2,700), algae, and fungi (~5100) from the around region and elsewhere. Of particular interest are our samples of plants from the North Cascades. In addition, WWB serves as a portal to other national and international herbaria through specimen loans and exchanges. By being part of the network of herbaria (the Index Herbariorum), we can readily access the wealth of morphological, ecological, geographical, and even genetic data available that is housed in plant collections around the world. Not only do we have preserved specimens, but also a small reference library on plant systematics and the flora of the region.
The geographic focus of the collection is delimited, in general, by the Vancouverian Province of the Rocky Mountain Floristic Region. The Rocky Mountain Floristic Region is divided into two provinces that basically span the western (Vancouverian) and eastern (Rocky Mountain) mountain ranges of the region. The herbarium lies near the geographic center of the Vancouverian Province, which extends from southern tip of the Cascades, just south of the Oregon-California border northwards through the Cascades, along the coast, and into Alaska. This region is marked by wide elevation changes across a topographically complex landscape, with some ranges (i.e., the Olympics) isolated from the main cordillera. This heterogeneous terrain offers a diversity of environments that have no doubt promoted the great species diversity and high degree of endemism witnessed across the region.
For more about the history of the herbarium, please read this article in the journal Douglasia.