University of North Carolina at Pembroke Herbarium (PEMB)

The UNC Pembroke Herbarium (PEMB), established in ca. 1998, is a valuable collection of dried, pressed plants (vouchers) used for instruction and research.  Most of the herbarium vouchers were collected during the 1950s and 1960s by Albert E. Radford, C. Ritchie Bell and Harry E. Ahles, and their UNC Chapel Hill graduate students and colleagues, in preparation of the Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas.  One of these graduate students, Robert F. Britt, would later join the faculty at UNCP (known then as Pembroke State University). Dr. Britt served as Professor of Biology (1960-1991) and Department Chair (1967-1985) for the Department of Biology.

In August 2019, the herbarium collection grew by more than 50% -- from approximately 4500 specimens to 7000 specimens -- with the acquisition of the herbarium from the North Carolina Zoological Park (NCZP).  Nell Allen (Biology alumna and former curator and collector for the Zoo herbarium) spearheaded the acquisition.  

The Zoo herbarium includes approximately 2600 specimen records, representing 1400 species.  Most of its plants were collected from the immediate vicinity of the zoo, but cultivated plants and exotic plants common to the diets of zoo animals are also in the collection.  The collection was the brainchild of the herbarium’s first curator and primary collector, Pete Diamond, a botanist with an artistic flair and exquisite attention to detail.  His vouchers are works of art.

Prior to the acquisition, the UNC Pembroke Herbarium included approximately 4500 specimen records, representing 2200 species.  More recently, the herbarium has archived the flora of Huggins Island (Onslow County, NC), Sampson’s Landing (Robeson County, NC), the UNCP Campus Garden (a work in progress), and the fall flora of the nature trail in the Lumbee Tribe Cultural Center (Robeson County).

In 2018, both the UNCP herbarium and the Zoo herbarium were digitized/imaged and then made publicly available on the SERNEC (SouthEast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections) website.  Digitization was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the grant’s principal investigator, Alexander Krings of North Carolina State University.  UNCP Biology majors Robbie Juel and Amanda Gallavan assisted with digitization, and Carol Ann McCormick, Curator of the UNC Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU), continues to database voucher label information and to peruse the collection for accuracy.   

The collection is used in course instruction (e.g., Plant Systematics and Field Botany), faculty and student research (e.g., floristic studies and curatorial work), and in public outreach (e.g., Kids in the Garden program).  Much work remains to organize and file the Zoo vouchers, but the herbarium is available to interested faculty, students, and visitors.  People who wish to visit the herbarium should contact the herbarium director, Lisa Kelly, Ph.D. (lisa.kelly@uncp.edu; phone 910-521-6377).  

Click here to search the SERNEC website for Lumbee medicinal plants that are archived in the UNCP Herbarium.  Click here to view some of the biodiversity of the nearby Lumbee Cultural Center.

The herbarium is listed with Index Herbariorum and was moved to its current location on the second floor of the Oxendine Science Building in 2005.