>167,000 specimens (+ many duplicates available for exchange)
The UW lichen collection has holdings of ca. 167,000 specimens, with a concentration in North American and Arctic material and a backlog of Central and South American collections eventually to be incorporated into the collection. The Wisconsin material, the best in the world, includes collections from the turn of the 20th century made by L. S. Cheney around the Great Lakes and in the Wisconsin River Valley. Principal collectors of the North American and Arctic material are: J. W. Thomson, M. E. Hale, W. L. Culberson, J. Looman, W. A. Weber, S. Shushan, T. Nash III, G. W. Scotter, H. H. Iltis, and I. M. Brodo. Above all are the very extensive collections of J. W. Thomson, who on a dozen arctic and boreal expeditions gathered some 22,647 numbers, the primary set of which are deposited in WIS and form the basis of his magisterial American Arctic Lichens (Vol. 1, 1984 – macrolichens; Vol. 2, 1997 – microlichens).
Recent exchanges with European and Japanese lichenologists, as well as acquisition of the Klaus Kalb lichen herbarium, have enhanced the lichen collections greatly, and many contemporary Old World exsiccatae are also now deposited in the herbarium. At present, approximately 1,500 lichen collections are being added to the UW Herbarium each year. The lichen herbarium sat mostly uncurated after Thomson’s death in 2009 until Tom Nash III joined the staff a few years later.
This is certainly one of the largest collections of lichens in the Western Hemisphere, being similar in size to the US National Herbarium (US), Farlow Herbarium of Harvard University (FH), Arizona State University (ASU), and just a few others that hold >100,000 lichens. It is perhaps the finest collection of northern Canadian and Alaskan lichens in the world. Numerous collections (some 40 boxes) made by H. H. Iltis in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador remain to be identified and incorporated, but the collection overall is well curated and housed in new cabinets located on the herbarium’s lower level.