The Rocky Mountain Herbarium was established in 1893 by Aven Nelson, a charter member of the UW faculty, who served as president of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists and Botanical Society of America, and as president of the University of Wyoming (1918-1922). Over the past 45 years, under the supervision of Curator Dr. Ronald Hartman, the Rocky Mountain Herbarium has been enriched by an unparalleled inventory program involving 50 floristics graduate students, as well as Herculean collecting feats by Curator Hartman and Manager, now Curator, Burrell “Ernie” Nelson.
In 1982 the US Forest Service National Herbarium (USFS), established in Washington, D.C. in 1911, and containing 120,000 specimens, was transferred to the Rocky Mountain Herbarium on indefinite loan. The W. G. Solheim Mycological Herbarium (RMS; established in the 1930’s by Dr. Solheim, distinguished UW teacher, researcher, and administrator) contains 48,000 specimens, principally parasitic fungi; also all of the major groups of fungi. It is based on Dr. Solheim’s own formal collection of approximately 1,800 species as well as specimens from many other states, Canada, the Farlow Herbarium at Harvard, and several European herbaria. The Rocky Mountain Herbarium collection, including USFS and RMS, now exceeds 1.3 million specimens.
The Rocky Mountain Herbarium Library is an official non-circulating branch of the University of Wyoming Libraries. The library contains an excellent collection of systematics literature for North America and major floristics and systematics treatments for the world. The Library specializes in the systematic classification of vascular plants, with particular strengths in the coverage of western North America. The collection is also strong in historic taxonomic literature including over 4,500 book titles in microfiche editions.