DEPARTMENT OF BOTANY
Poaceae Reorganization Project
The last thorough reorganization of the grass collections at US, was done when the herbarium was moved from the Smithsonian Castle to the new West wing of National Museum of Natural History in 1964. At that time the genera were arranged alphabetically. Agnes Chase had organized most of the species (other than bamboos) into genera she and Hitchcock had recognized up to the time of the 1951 edition of the Manual of Grasses of the United States. Soderstrom and McClure separated the bamboos from the general grass collection. Some 70 percent of the grass collection was placed into a compactor system ca 1990. During the ensuing 50+ years since that curation effort, much new data accumulated to realign species and genera into a more phylogenetic arrangement.
Our plan is to place all genera alphabetically with in the smallest phylogenetically arranged formal subgroup (tribe or subtribe), within phylogenetically arranged subfamilies. Most of these smallest sets contain fewer than 20 genera. We expect this arrangement to ease identification to genus, and to facilitate access to and research on particular groups of genera, including the pulling of loans. Once this reorganization is completed, we plan to secure funding to digitize all the remaining specimens, and have their label data coded into the Smithsonian KE EMu database, for posting on the Botany website. This will make a vast trove of historical and geographical data publically available for research. At present, grass type specimens and the bamboo collection are databased and imaged, and the Mexican and Hawaiian grasses are fully databased. Peterson and Soreng collections are mostly databased, and some have been imaged. Beyond this, the majority of the collection remains to be imaged and/or databased.