ASU Fossil Plant Collections
The fossil plant collections at ASU include around 4,000 accessioned megafossil specimens, and approximately as many unaccessioned specimens. In addition to the plant megafossils, there are several subcollections including one of fossil and extant pollen, extant wood anatomy and other anatomical sections, and a selection of morphological specimens and sectioned material of extant plants prepared in connection to research projects.
Strengths of the collection include:
1. Permineralized Tertiary plants from the Late Paleocene Almont and Beicegel
Creek floras of North Dakota and the Miocene Yakima Canyon flora of Washington state and the Miocene Virgin Valley of Nevada (supporting ongoing research)
2. Fossil plant remains from Arizona:
 A. Middle Devonian Salt River Canyon flora, which represents the oldest (and one of the few) Devonian sites in western North America (collected in 1960s, on Apache Reservations and unaccessible today).
B. Pennsylvanian/Permian boundary flora at Promonotory Butte, northeast of Payson, AZ on Mogollon Rim.
C. Representative Cretaceous and Tertiary wood localities, and fossil pollen samples from Paleozoic coal sites throughout state.
3. North American Tertiary leaf compression floras:
A. Leaf compressions from the Eocene Okanagan Highlands floras of eastern Washington State and British Columbia including the Republic Flora, One Mile Creek near Princeton, BC and the McAbee, which support ongoing research.
B. Leaf compressions from the middle Miocene Clarkia and Emerald Creek flora of Idaho (supporting ongoing research)
C. Representative examples from well known lake-bed deposits including Middle Eocene Claiborne Formation of Tennessee and Kentucky, Florissant and Creede floras of Colorado, La Porte of California, among others.
4. Pennsylvanian coal-ball collections. These include specimens from Illinois, southesastern Ohio and Kansas from middle-late Pennsylvanian floras.
5. An excellent teaching collection of fossil plants, and extant plants, slides and other remains, and economic botany collection that support courses including PLB 306 (Plant Anatomy), PLB 470 (Plant Fossils and Evolution), PLB 598 (a new Vascular Plant Morphology and Evolution class co-taught with M. Wojciechowski) and PLB 302 (Plants and Society)
6. Extant wood collection contains many important and unusual woods, particularly tropical examples collected and prepared by Emeritus Professor Jim Canright and his students, and extant pollen collection, much of which keys to ASU Herbarium specimens, which is currently housed with Dr. Patricia Fall's collections in the Anthopology building (and also databased with that collection).
The Fossil Plant Collections are housed mostly in LSA within around 20 Lane Geology cabinets and other cabinets. Selected examples are housed with teaching collections in LSE S65. Dr. Canright's extant pollen collections are currently on long-term loan to Dr. Pat Fall, Dept of Geography, who has accessioned them in with her own pollen and plant macrofossil (packrat middens) collections and with those of Professor Emeritus Jim Schoenwetter in the Anthropology dept. where she has an adjunct appointment. Many of these samples are keyed to specific herbarium sheets in the ASU Vascular Plant Herbarium.
Accessioned megafossils and other smaller subcollections have been entered on an excel spreadsheet. New material is continually obtained both for research and teaching purposes, and a modest number of loans and gifts have been made to various experts in particular fields. Plans for exchange for extant wood samples have been discussed with Dr. Elisabeth Wheeler, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh.
An online database for the collections is forthcoming. For further information on the collections, contact Kathleen Pigg at 480-965-3154 or kpigg@asu.edu.
Return to Start