The University of Arizona Herbarium is as old as the University of Arizona itself.

When U of A first opened its doors in students in October of 1891, the herbarium was located in Old Main and consisted of 700 native plant specimens from southern and central Arizona. Since that time, the collections have grown to over 420,000 plant specimens and over 40,000 mycological specimens.

Not only is ARIZ the largest herbarium in AZ, but it contains one of the largest collections of plants from the biologically diverse Sonoran Desert region (Arizona, Sonora, and adjacent desert areas of California and Baja California). ARIZ also contains significant collections of plants from other regions of Mexico, and is home to numerous important historical collections, many dating to the 1800s.

Some important dates:

1890 - James W. Toumey starts ARIZ with a collection of 700 Arizona plants
1891 - Herbarium opens, originally housed in Old Main
1901 - John J. Thornber replaces J.W. Toumey as Director of Herbarium
Early 1900s - Herbarium moves to Science Hall, later know as the Liberal Arts Annex
1936 - Herbarium moves to Forbes (Agricultural Building)
1937 - Lyman Benson joins herbarium as Thornber's assistant
1944 - Frank Gould becomes Director while Thornber enters semi-retirement
1944 - 30,000 personal specimens of Forrest Shreve are acquired by herbarium
1949 - Kittie Parker becomes Director
1951 - Frank Gould publishes Grasses of the Southwest
1952 - Robert Peebles collection is acquired from the USDA Cotton Station in Sacaton
1953 - Charles T. Mason becomes Director
1955 - 15,000 Leslie M. Goodding specimens are acquired from Soil Conservation Services
1962 - Herbarium moves into Shantz Building
1989 - H.S. Gentry Herbarium acquired
1992 - Lucinda McDade becomes Director; Phil Jenkins joins staff as Curatorial Specialist.
2001 - Steve McLaughlin becomes Director
2004 - Herbarium moves to current location in Herring Hall
2006 - Shelley McMahon becomes Director

For a more detailed history, read George Ferguson and Michelle McMahon's history of the Herbarium