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 - Solanum rostratum

Plant Image

Most North Dakota records for buffalo bur, also called "Kansas thistle", are from south or west of the Missouri River, but the plant has been collected in at least eleven counties east of the River. Buffalo bur originally inhabited the dry prairies and plains, but, since the advent of European man, it has spread to many areas of the United States and Mexico in fields, feedlots, and roadsides at elevations up to 6,000 feet.

Buffalo bur is a taprooted annual (reproduces each year by seeds) bearing long, yellow spines on stems, leaves, and flower heads. Plants collected in North Dakota are usually less than a foot tall. The oblong leaves are 2-3 inches long with deep rounded lobes. Flowers are bright yellow and about an inch wide. Berries up to 3/8 inch in diameter are totally enclosed by the dried flower parts and are filled with dark, pitted seeds.

Look for buffalo bur from May to October in dry, exposed soils in heavily grazed prairies and along roadsides. The berries and roots are possibly poisonous to swine.

Buffalo bur is a member of the potato or nightshade family (Solanaceae). The family has about 3,000 species worldwide; most are found in tropical America. The family includes some very valuable food plants including the tomatoes, bell peppers, and ground cherries as well as harmful or poisonous plants including tobacco, jimsonweed, henbane, and belladonna. The genus Solanum contains about 2,000 species. Solanum is an ancient Latin name for an unknown plant. Rostratum means "beaked" in reference to a characteristic of the pollen-bearing organs, the anthers. Buffalo bur was first described for science in 1813 by Michael Felix Dunal (1789-1856), professor of botany at the University of Montpellier, France.

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.