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  • Friday, April 22, 2016
  • 1:30 PM–2:30 PM
  • Science Building 010

In the late 1800s, botanist Emma Cole, a teacher at Grand Rapids High School and Kent Scientific Institute, investigated the plant diversity growing throughout much of Kent County.  

Emma Cole studied at Cornell University, and was known internationally for her valuable contributions to botanical research.  During her intensive study of the plants of Grand Rapids, she created an extensive herbarium documenting the flora, with about 2500 specimens, donated to the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, still existing. She also travelled to Europe, Cuba and Mexico, collecting plants.  Miss Cole’s Grand Rapids Flora is a comprehensive catalog of the area’s plant life. Despite considerable urban development in the past 100 years, this remains the most comprehensive study of the area’s plants to-date.

In the summer of 2015, students Dorthea Leisman, Emily Van Staalduinen and research advisors Dr. Garrett Crow and Dr. David Warners visited 20 different locations that Emma Cole had included in Grand Rapids Flora. More than 1000 new specimens were collected for the herbarium. Dr. Crow, Professor Emeritus, Univ. of New Hampshire, is a visiting scholar in the Biology department and curator for the herbarium. The herbarium’s research continues the work Emma Cole started over a century ago, and will help to give us a clearer picture of the plant life and ecosystem quality following more than a century of progress and development in the Grand Rapids area.

April 2016
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