WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A community-based effort is working to grow its forty-year-old collection. Wilkes University has a unique number of local plants, it’s called an herbarium and they want your help.

The herbarium at Wilkes University has been around since 1982.

“A herbarium is basically a collection of plants. It’s a collection of dried pressed plant specimens,” stated Dr. Kenneth Klemow, biology department chair at Wilkes University.

Dr. Klemow started with a few samples and has grown it significantly.

“We have about 3500 specimens in the collection, which makes it a fairly small collection. But it’s still big enough to be recognized at the worldwide or global level. As far as I understand this is the largest active collection pretty much in northeastern Pennsylvania,” explained Klemow

It’s not just for students and faculty, it’s also for the community to use to identify plants. Work has begun on digitizing their current specimens so that the community can more easily access the information.

“My thought is that specimens are really important for documenting what was there. And then in the future, they’re really important for documenting what’s not there. So we can examine things like the effects of climate change,” stated Dr. Jeff Stratford, a biology professor at Wilkes University

Recently they found a small collection from Trucksville that was titled mother’s biology work.

“So basically when we went in and opened it up, we saw that there were pressed specimens that actually dated from 1907,” said Klemow.

While they welcome more samples from the community. They plan to build this collection into something bigger that contains more than just the plants.

“A unified place where insects, plants, birds, mammals, where all the local biodiversity is represented around this room. It could be a resource for anyone around the world, but in particular for the community here,” explained Stratford.

if you want to donate pressed plants to their herbarium, contact Klemow’s email kenneth.klemow@wilkes.edu and Stratford at stratford@wilkes.edu.