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 - Senecio canus

Plant Image

Well distributed across all but extreme southeastern North Dakota, gray ragwort is chiefly a west-central plains plant, being found from Manitoba and British Columbia south to Colorado and western Kansas, at elevations up to 7,500 ft.

Gray ragwort is perennial from heavy fibrous roots. Plants may be up to 16 inches tall, but the average is about one foot. Five to 15 yellow flower heads, each up to an inch wide, grow in branched clusters at the top of the stem. Leaves and stems are covered with loose patches of gray wooly hairs. Leaves are mostly basal and spoon-shaped, but a few on the upper stem are narrow and toothed. Fruits are hairless, ribbed achenes.

Gray ragwort seems to like dry sites in heavy clay soils. Cattle seem to avoid the plant, probably because of its bitter, aromatic taste.

Gray ragwort is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) in which many flowers are grouped into heads. The sunflower family is the largest in nearly every country in the North Temperate Zone. Senecio is an immense, worldwide genus of well over 1,000 species, some of which are trees. The name stems from the Latin senex, "an old man," and canus, "gray," concerning the hoary appearance of many of the herbaceous species. Gray ragwort was first described for science by the eminent British botanist William Hooker in his Flora Boreali-Americana of 1834.

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.