The taxonomic emphasis of the vascular plant collection is reflected in the historically broad interests of the TENN staff and students in floristics and phytogeography. In general, the collection may be best described as one with a strong emphasis on widespread and/or temperate taxa. Even though the collection houses representative specimens of the world's flora, it is unique in having the largest collection of specimens from the state of Tennessee, the historical collections documenting the flora of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (a World Biosphere Reserve), and the large, general collection from throughout the southern Appalachians. Significant and representative collections are also present from the remainder of the U. S., Central and South America, and Afro-Eurasia.
The pteridophyte collection is more cosmopolitan than the rest of the vascular plant collection due, in large part, to the collecting and exchange of A. M. Evans and A. J. Sharp. About 50% is from Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the rest from North America N of Mexico. About 30% is from Central and South America and the West Indies, i. e., Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Mexico, and Costa Rica; and the remainder from the Old World, especially Taiwan, Japan, and western Europe. TENN houses extensive collections of vascular plant taxa, long cited in botanical literature, as classic examples showing the phytogeographic relationships of the flora of Tennessee and the southern Appalachians with that of southeastern Asia, the highlands of Mexico, and the western U. S. Again, no other moderate sized and few major U.S. herbaria can match TENN in its holdings of specimens critical to future studies in these areas of phytogeography and biodiversity in the Eastern US.
Scientific and public outreach is exemplified by the vascular plant web site which hosts 10918 photos and distribution maps of Tennessee plants.
To view a list of other plant images and distribution sites, click here.
All names in our online guide to the vascular plants of Tennessee follow the taxonomic treatment used in Guide to the Vascular Plants of Tennessee (2015). If you have trouble finding a scientific name on our site, you can search for synonyms on Tropicos or the USDA Plants Database.