Welcome to the NPWRC Herbarium

The Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center's herbarium was established in the 1960's to house reference and voucher specimens of plants for researchers in wetland and waterfowl ecology in the northern Great Plains. Since then, specimens from many other areas of the United States and Canada have been added to the collection. In 1978, the Herbarium (code NPWRC) was listed in the International Index Herbariorum to facilitate inter-herbarium loans and exchanges.

Today, the NPWRC herbarium houses over 6,000 plant specimens. All specimens in the collection are in a searchable database that can be accessed from this page. For more information on the NPWRC Herbarium, please contact the collection's manager using the “Contact Us” form found on this page.

Featured Plant - Mertensia lanceolata

Plant Image

Also sometimes called "lungwort," "bluebells," or "languid-ladies," wild forget-me-not occurs in the western half of North Dakota. The overall range of the plant is from Saskatchewan to New Mexico, at elevations up to 10,000 ft.

Plants usually are about 4 to 8 inches tall. Several stems may arise from a stout, perennial root. Leaves are narrow, pointed, and about one to three inches long. Hairs with resinous bases spot the leaves. A few branches on top bear up to a dozen drooping, blue flowers about one-half inch long. The base of the stem is also bluish. Fruits are black, roughened nutlets.

Look for wild forget-me-not on dry prairies and eroded slopes. Grazing seems to have little effect on the abundance of wild forget-me-not. There are no known economic uses for the plant. However, under the obsolete "doctrine of signatures" practiced by the early herbalist-physicians, the spotted leaves were a sure indication that the plants would cure diseases of the lungs.

Wild forget-me-not is a member of the family Boraginaceae. Borage is an old name, presumably of folk-origin, for a European plant in the family. The genus was dedicated to the distinguished German botanist Franz Mertens (1764-1831). The species name lanceolata means "lance-shaped" in reference to the leaves. Wild forget-me-not was first described for science by the German botanist Frederick Pursh (1774-1829). Pursh was the first to publish upon many of the new plants collected by Lewis and Clark.

Author Credit:

"Plant of the Week" comes from a series of articles about native wildflowers of the North Dakota grasslands written by NPWRC biologist Harold A. Kantrud. The articles appeared weekly in local newspapers. Each article is three to four paragraphs in length and usually consists of the life history of the species, its identifying traits, where in North Dakota one can expect to find it, and its nomenclatural history. Kurt A. Adolfson and Jack Lefor provided the many excellent photographs used in the original articles and this resource.