Floristics is the science of identifying the diversity of plants across a given geographic region. Monography is the comprehensive global treatment of a taxon or clade of interest. The Harvard University Herbaria have a long history in these pursuits, beginning with the most famous early contributions by Asa Gray, who was interested in the flora of North America and its biogeographic connections to Eastern Asia. Today, active floristic research pursued in the field and Herbaria is focused in Asia, South America, and New England. These efforts are helping to address a range of topics, from characterizing poorly known regions of the world, such as the Hengduan Mountains of China, to understanding fine-scale impacts of recent global change across New England.
Eastern Asia & the Hengduan Mountains
David Boufford is focused on eastern Asia and the Hengduan Mountain region of China. The more than 200,000 collections made by Boufford and his collaborators also include silica-gel samples for cutting edge molecular study. The Hengduan website also includes the greatest number of documented photos of Chinese plants in the world.
Climate Change & New England
As part of a project to document changes in plant distributions related to climate change, Charles Davis and his collaborators are currently digitizing the more than one million specimens of vascular plants from across New England, the majority of which reside at Harvard.
Neotropical Orchids in South America
Gustavo Romero focuses on studies of several genera of neotropical orchids, and floristic work in the remote upper Orinoco (Venezuela) and Rio Negro (Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela) river basins.