Discovery in the United States

Over 10,000 species have been collected in North American natural products discovery programs active since 1986. The Missouri Botanical Garden has worked with academic, commercial and government collaborators on these programs.  In recent years, our primary partnership is with the University of Mississippi’s Thad Cochran National Center for Natural Products Research, initiated in 2001. Botanical expeditions have been conducted to many areas of the United States, but usually focus on areas of high diversity, including the Southeast and Appalachian regions, the Pacific Northwest, California, the desert Southwest, and of course the state of Missouri.

Collections are often made (always with appropriate permits) on public land, such as those under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as on roadside right-of-ways. Samples are collected and preserved using a variety of methods, depending upon the needs of our collaborators. Herbarium vouchers collected in the field permanently document the botanical identity of samples collected for screening programs and contribute to taxonomic and floristic research at the MBG. Vouchers are generally collected in sets of 4 or more, and duplicates are distributed to other herbaria. For select species encountered in the field, DNA samples are placed in silica gel and preserved in MBG’s DNA bank for use in phylogenetic studies. All specimen data are entered into the MBG’s plant database TROPICOS, which is freely available on the Web, as well as an Access database for internal use.

Staff of the MBG constantly acquire, through collection, exchange, or purchase, living or preserved plants to be used in research, education, and display programs. Well-documented collections are a critical component of horticultural display, research, and educational programs at the MBG, and their acquisition and exchange are essential for the MBG to fulfill its mission. The Garden’s Plant Genetic Resources Policy defines the principles that govern the acquisition, use, and distribution of plant materials and information about plants for research, education, and display purposes at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Full statement of policy